Microsoft Advertising has released its 2020 year-in-review report, giving a glimpse of the state of online advertising.
The company blocked some 300,000 accounts from its advertising platform, a 30% increase from 2019. Microsoft also removed 1.6 billion bad ads, as well as 270,000 sites from its system.
Given the year that was 2020, it’s not surprising what Microsoft’s five key areas of focus were: the pandemic, political advertising, third-party government services, tech support scams and advertiser safety.
Microsoft emphasized its approach to advertising, one that uses a combination of artificial intelligence and manual reviewers.
Advertising fraud is fast-moving, and we continue to see new patterns surface globally. We take an all-hands-on-deck approach to ensure we continue to deliver the highest quality content possible. We constantly update and refine our policies to ensure we meet evolving needs. Our fraud detection technology makes use of a wide variety of signals and uses the latest machine-learning algorithms to find fraud patterns which can otherwise be difficult to detect. We also have a geographically distributed team of experts working round the clock to help us conduct detailed investigations on any new patterns we’re seeing, by making use of smart and scalable tools. Detecting fraud before it has a chance to reach customers is one piece of our approach.
We also address escalations and complaints from customers to quickly remove low-quality ads. In 2020, we received a total of ~50,000 complaints related to ads not being compliant per our advertising policies. We investigated each complaint and found ~ 65% of the reported ads to be in violation of Microsoft Advertising policies. Most of the complaints were related to trademark infringements. As we continue to roll out new products and make it easier for brands to engage with audiences, we made additional investments to protect and respond to advertisers’ concerns around trademark use and were able to reduce the trademark related complaints by ~ 25% year over year. We also received a few complaints related to unlicensed gambling sites, phishing, unauthorized government service provider websites, and other user safety concerns. We have a highly responsive operations team working 24/7 to promptly address concerns relating to our ads. In response to complaints, our operations team took down nearly 400,000 violating ads from our network.
Microsoft’s 2020 report shows the challenges the advertising industry faces, as well as provides insights into how to manage those challenges.