Tech Times reported on Jan. 26 that Google took down 1.7 billion fake advertisements in 2016 and banned 200 publishers in the last two months of the same year. The number seems awfully high but it is actually believable considering many sites have been riddled with fake news and advertisements that compromise the security of its victims.
Facebook is one of the social media sites that received a huge headache when it came to fake news to the point that its Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Zuckerberg, considered using only curated news as a way to prevent the fake ones from proliferating. Google, however, approached the issue with the full strength of its engineers and policy experts and decided to dish out a punishment with a bigger impact to the wrongdoers.
Scott Spencer, Google's Director of Product Management and Sustainable Ads, detailed how the company dealt with 1.7 billion advertisements that violated their policy in its Bad Ads report published on Jan. 25. Spencer explained that Google's successful action against harmful ads rested on two core actions: the first is the expansion of Google's Ad Policy and, second, the enhancement of its technologies.
Here is how Google axed four types of bad ads in 2016.
Ads for illegal products
Google took action against advertisements for illegal products in 2016 by uprooting the main actors. That is, the company disabled ads for illegal pharmaceutical products for healthcare violations. If you can't imagine that, think of medications that have no approval from official drug administration channels.
Likewise, Google took down advertisements for gambling and other gambling-related promotions in countries in which it is illegal to operate.
"We disabled more than 68 million bad ads for healthcare violations [and] 17 million bad ads for illegal gambling violations in 2016," Spencer reveals.
Now it's almost impossible for anyone to have missed these types of advertisements because these pop up in almost any website. Those miracle weight loss pills that would cause a person to lose a significant amount of weight in a short span of time without really doing anything is a huge violator. Even those advertisements for products that hold off on giving actual information and trick users into purchasing just by shock value alone were axed.
"[We] require our advertisers to provide upfront information for people to make informed decisions [...] we took down nearly 80 million bad ads for deceiving, misleading and shocking users," Spencer writes.
Bad ads on mobile
Have you ever been shocked that your smartphone is suddenly filled with applications you have never even seen and are very unlikely to download and install? Google took care of that problem too because that occurrence usually happens when people encounter self-clicking ads.
"In 2015, we disabled only a few thousand of these bad ads, but in 2016, our systems detected and disabled more than 23,000 self-clicking ads on our platforms," Spencer reveals.
The huge increase could either be good news or bad news because, while it could mean that Google's improved system is a more potent bad ad killing machine now, it could also mean that there was a rise in malicious programs online in 2016. Then again, it could be both.
Tabloid cloakers: ads trying to game the system
Like the ads for illegal product, Google also pulled at the roots of tabloid cloakers. These types of ads intentionally attempt to game the system by riding on trending news stories and making their advertisements look like news articles, only for an interested reader to be redirected to their scammy advertisement.
"To fight cloakers, we take down the scammers themselves, and prevent them from advertising with us again," Spencer writes.
Google knows that scammers would try even more elaborate actions from hereon but the company promises to keep improving its system to fight harmful ads and protect its users from violators.