Last year, the search giant killed some 1.7 billion ads that violated its advertising policies, the company said today, more than double the number in 2015–and far more than the 130 million in spiked in 2011. The reason, once you think a minute about it, makes sense: Fraudulent, malware-carrying or even just plain annoying ads drive people way, and then they don’t see the ads that are legitimate. If that happens, Google really loses.
Scott Spencer, Google’s director of product management for sustainable ads–that’s really his title–said Google did two main things last year to rid its search engine of bad ads. First, it expanded the kinds of ads it won’t allow. In July, for instance, it banned payday loan ads, disabling more than 5 million of them by year’s end.
Second, it improved its technology to discover and disable unwanted ads faster. For instance, Google is catching more “trick to click” ads that try to fool people into downloading malware, catching and stopping 112 million of them, six times as many as in 2015.
And in a move that addresses the recent concern about “fake news,” Google also tightened its policies on the 2 million or so publishers in its AdSense ad network to ban website owners who deceive people into thinking they’re real news sites. From November to December 2016, Spencer said, Google reviewed 550 sites “suspected of misrepresenting content to users, including impersonating news organizations, and kicked out nearly 200 publishers permanently.
In a blog post, Google outlined a number of other ads it targeted for removal last year:
Ads for illegal products
Some of the most common bad ads we find online are ads promoting illegal activities or products. Although we’ve long had a policy against bad ads for pharmaceuticals, last year our systems detected an increase online. We disabled more than 68 million bad ads for healthcare violations, up from 12.5 million in 2015.
Similarly, we saw more attempts to advertise gambling-related promotions without proper authorization from regulators in the countries they operate. We took down more than 17 million bad ads for illegal gambling violations in 2016.
We don’t want you to feel misled by ads that we deliver, so we require our advertisers to provide upfront information for people make informed decisions. Some ads try to drive clicks and views by intentionally misleading people with false information like asking, “Are you at risk for this rare, skin-eating disease?” or offering miracle cures like a pill that will help you lose 50 pounds in three days without lifting a finger. In 2016, we took down nearly 80 million bad ads for deceiving, misleading and shocking users.