Google spent a good deal of corporate energy in 2016 fighting the bane of the online world: fraudulent ads, sites, and scammers.
“Bad ads can ruin the online experience for everyone,” writes Scott Spencer, Director of Product Management, Sustainable Ads at Google. “They promote illegal products and unrealistic offers. They can trick people into sharing personal information and infect devices with harmful software. Ultimately, bad ads pose a threat to users, Google’s partners, and the sustainability of the open web itself.”
Google maintains a strict set of policies policing the types of ads it allows on Google in order to protect people from misleading, inappropriate, or harmful ads. To that end, in 2016 Google took down 1.7 billion ads that violated its advertising policies, more than double the amount of bad ads singled out in 2015.
“If you spent one second taking down each of those bad ads, it’d take you more than 50 years to finish,” says Spencer. “But our technology is built to work much faster.”
Other initiatives included a policy to ban ads for payday loans, which often result in unaffordable payments and high default rates for users. That resulted in the erasure of more than 5 million payday loan ads.
“We beefed up our technology so we can spot and disable bad ads even faster,” writes Spencer. “For example, “trick to click” ads often appear as system warnings to deceive users into clicking on them, not realizing they are often downloading harmful software or malware. In 2016, our systems detected and disabled a total of 112 million ads for “trick to click,” six times more than in 2015.”
In 2016, Google took action on 47,000 sites for promoting content and products related to weight-loss scams; shed more than 15,000 sites for unwanted software; disabled 900,000 ads for containing malware; and suspended approximately 6,000 sites and 6,000 accounts for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods like imitation designer watches.
Google had a busy 2016. To read more about all the hammers Google dropped (and on whom), click here.