Google battles ‘bad’ and scam products amid claims it removed 1.6b ads in 2016

Google has allegedly tightened policies and created new technologies in its fight to abolish “bad” and scams ads, with its blog suggesting it has removed 1.6b ads from the internet in the past 12 months.Google

The digital advertising company, which receives 90% of its revenue from advertisers has revealed in its blog that it is actively tackling the “bad ads” that “promote illegal products and unrealistic offers” or “trick people into sharing personal information and infect devices with harmful software.”

Scott Spencer, director of product management for sustainable ads, said the company has a “strict set of policies that govern the types of ads we do and don’t allow on Google in order to protect people from misleading, inappropriate, or harmful ads.

“We have a team of engineers, policy experts, product managers and others who are waging a daily fight against bad actors.”

Google allegedly disabled more than 5m payday loan ads following the introduction of its new payday loan policy in July 2016, as well as disabled 112m ‘trick to click’ ads – ads which scare users with system warnings – by using “beefed up” technology.

Among the results, Google also claims to have removed 68m bad ads for illegal pharmaceutical products, up from 12.5m ads removed in 2015, as well as 17m ads promoting illegal gambling.

Spencer noted the company’s push on disabling ads that mislead the public, taking down almost 80m bad ads for deceiving or shocking users.

While the blog did not directly address advertising on fake news websites, Spencer said a website which misled consumers and promoted bad ads could be suspended.

Google introduced an AdSense misrepresentative content policy in November last year to tackle website owners using the company’s AdSense platform, who were misrepresenting themselves and deceiving users with content.

The AdSense misrepresentative content policy targets fake news sites, sites trying to obtain personal data and plagiarised term papers.

The blog claims Google has reviewed 550 sites since the policy was introduced, and has taken action against 340 which violated policies, with almost 200 publishers being removed from its AdSense network.

“When a publisher violates our policies, we may stop showing ads on their site, or even terminate their account,” Spencer said.

Google also said it is managing ads that self-click, promote malicious websites and “tabloid cloakers”, that attempt to use timely topics to attract consumers; however, it is not clear whether it can pull ads from websites that are not obviously flagged.

While Spencer said the company has put the right steps in place to remove ads that can “ruin the online experience,” he believes scammers will continue to invest to trick Google systems.

“While we took down more bad ads in 2016 than ever before, the battle doesn’t end here,” he said.

“Continuing to find and fight them is essential to protecting people online and ensuring you get the very best from the open web.”


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