Google shut off more than 524 million ads in 2014 for using “trick to click” tactics and promoting counterfeit goods, malware and spyware among other violations of its advertising policies, according to its annual Bad Ads report. That’s up from the more than 350 million ads the online advertising giant disabled in 2013.
More than 33,000 merchants were banned from advertising on Google Shopping for ad policy violations.
The overall number of bad advertisers banned from Google’s ad systems did see another annual drop from around 270,000 in 2013 to some 214,000 in 2014. In 2012 that number was over 800,000. At the time, Mike Hochberg, former director of ads engineering, said of the sharp decline, “In part, we attribute this decline to scammers — counterfeiters, for example — being thwarted by our safety screens and searching for less-secure targets.”
Of the ad policy violations Google itemizes, “trick to click approaches” accounted for the largest percentage of problem ads. Over 43 million ads were struck down for violating trick to click policies — using “Click here” in text ads or display ads mimicking system errors, for example.
Over 9.6 million ads were disabled for health-care related violations — think illegal online pharmacies.
Much smaller numbers of ads were disapproved for counterfeit goods and phishing schemes, more than 7,000 and 5,000, respectively. Last year, Google said it banned more than 14,000 advertisers for trying to sell counterfeit goods, which was a decline of 82 percent from 2012.
Google uses both people and machines to detect and identify bad seed in its ad systems. To illustrate the types of situations the team encounters, Vikaram Gupta, Google’s current director of ads engineering, shared this example:
“last summer our analysis technology flagged a set of accounts as suspicious. To the human eye, the ads looked like ordinary rental property ads that met our policies. After we dug in deeper, we discovered that the system was right to be suspicious – the vacation rentals turned out to be a scam and the rental properties didn’t exist. Our systems learn from incidents like these, helping us more effectively catch and remove bad ads and advertisers.”
Google also says more than 4.3 million ads were disapproved for copyright infringement.
On the AdSense publisher front, over 1.25 million applications to join the network were rejected. Google also says more than 250,000 sites were shut down for hiding malware.
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