Google has published a blog post revealing just how many bad ads it removed from the web in 2015. Spoiler: they removed a lot.
There can be all kinds of bad ads, whether they’re ads which falsely claim to help weight loss, or phishing sites that trick unassuming web users to submit personal information. Thanks to a team of some 1,000 employees, and some clever computer algorithms, the company was able to remove a ton of ads and ban a huge number of misbehaving advertisers…
One of the most-blocked ad types was from the pharmaceutical industry. Google says that it blocked more than 12.5 million ads which went against its healthcare and medicines policy. In most cases, these are ads for pharmaceutical products which haven’t been approved for use, or ads that made misleading claims to be as effective as prescription medication.
On a related note, the company says it suspended more than 30,000 weight loss scam sites which pushed ads for supplements which promise “impossible-to-achieve weight loss without diet or exercise”.
Unbelievably, the biggest offending ad type was the ‘Trick to Click’ kind. Essentially, ads designed to look like system warnings on your computer. Google blocked an incredible 17 million of them. This is in 2015. I’ll let that sink in for a while.
Google also blocked nearly 7,000 phishing sites and more than 10,000 sites offering unwanted software. The company has also been cracking down on ads that cover up what you’re trying to see, or send you to an advertiser’s site even if you didn’t want to go there. They’ve also stopped showing ads on more than 25,000 smartphone apps because developers didn’t follow the correct policies.
More than two-thirds of these violations were for practices like mobile ads placed very close to buttons, causing someone to accidentally click the ad. There are also some sites and apps that we choose not to work with because they don’t follow our policies. We also reject applications from sites and mobile apps that want to show Google ads but don’t follow our policies. In 2015 alone, we rejected more than 1.4 million applications.
Overall, it managed to disable nearly 50% more ads in 2015 than it did the year before.
As people spend more time online, everyone wants a piece of the ad revenue action. When Google’s predominant revenue stream is ads, it takes quality incredibly seriously. So seriously, in fact, that one employee dedicated their 20% free project time to crack down on shopping advertisements for elephant ivory.
Still, the company isn’t happy yet. Speaking to WSJ, Google’s VP of Trust and Security Tom Siegel said “The absolute number of bad ads is going up as is the total number of ads we show.” What’s more, the rise of electronic bots generating fraudulent clicks means Google has to work harder to crack down on those, which can cause great expense to the advertisers who have to pay Google.