Google says it has a global team consisting of over a thousand people specifically dedicated to fighting bad ads. Over the course of 2015, those people (along with Google’s technology) disabled over 780 million ads that violated Google policies.
To put that into perspective, Google notes that if you spent one second looking at each one of them, it would take you 25 years to see them all. Unbelievable.
“Some bad ads, like those for products that falsely claim to help with weight loss, mislead people,” says Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP of Ads & Commerce at Google. “Others help fraudsters carry out scams, like those that lead to ‘phishing’ sites that trick people into handing over personal information. Through a combination of computer algorithms and people at Google reviewing ads, we’re able to block the vast majority of these bad ads before they ever get shown.”
Types of “bad ads” Google busted last year included counterfeiters, pharmaceuticals, weight loss scams, phishing, and unwanted software.
They suspended over 10,000 websites and 18,000 accounts for attempting to sell counterfeit goods, such as imitation designer watches. They blocked over 12.5 million ads violating the company’s healthcare/medicines policy. They suspended over 30,000 sites for misleading claims related to weight loss. They blocked about 7,000 phishing sites, and disabled 10,000 sites offering unwanted software.
They also rejected over 17 million ads that tried to mislead or trick people into interacting with them. These include ads that are designed to look like system warnings from the user’s computer.
“Sometimes even ads that offer helpful and relevant information behave in ways that can be really annoying—covering up what you’re trying to see or sending you to an advertiser’s site when you didn’t intend to go there,” says Ramaswamy. “In 2015, we disabled or banned the worst offenders.”
Last year, Google took steps to reduce the amount of accidental clicks on ads, which is one of the things the company points to as a way it’s improving the ad experience. They also stopped showing ads on over 25,000 mobile apps because the developers didn’t follow policies.
A study from the Association of National Advertisers that came out this week says that ad fraud will cost $7.2 billion (up $1 billion) in 2016.
Image via Google