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Google blocked 1.7bn bad ads in 2016

News, 27 January 2017
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SAN FRANCISCO: Google took down 1.7bn ads that violated its advertising policies in 2016, more than double the amount of "bad ads" taken down in 2015, the company has announced.

These included more than 5m payday loan ads, which were disabled in just the six months since Google updated its advertising guidelines in July last year.

Scott Spencer, Director of Product Management at Google's Sustainable Ads unit, explained in a blog post that these expanded policies helped to protect users from misleading and predatory offers. Improved technology also enabled the company to spot and disable bad ads even faster, he added.

"A free and open web is a vital resource for people and businesses around the world. And ads play a key role in ensuring you have access to accurate, quality information online," Spencer said.

"But bad ads can ruin the online experience for everyone. They promote illegal products and unrealistic offers. They can trick people into sharing personal information and infect devices with harmful software. Ultimately, bad ads pose a threat to users, Google's partners, and the sustainability of the open web itself."

In addition to tackling payday loan ads, Google systems detected and disabled 112m "trick and click" ads, which appear to show warnings on screens to deceive users into clicking them and downloading harmful software. That was six times increase on 2015.

Some of the most common online bad ads that Google disabled were those promoting illegal activities or products, including 68m for products that violated healthcare laws (up from 12.5m in 2015) and 17m for gambling violations.

Google also took down nearly 80m bad ads for deceiving, misleading and shocking users, such as those promoting miracle weight-loss pills, and disabled more than 23,000 self-clicking ads on its platforms.

Spencer further reported that Google has seen an increase in the number of "tabloid cloakers", a new type of scammer that tries to game its system by pretending to be news.

Theses scams involve tricking users into believing they're going to a news site, only to be directed to a site selling weight-loss products, for example.

"During a single sweep for tabloid cloaking in December 2016, we took down 22 cloakers that were responsible for ads seen more than 20m times by people online in a single week," Spencer said, as he highlighted the scale of the growing online trend.

Data sourced from Google; additional content by Warc staff

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