Google went on an ad-banning rampage last year, disabling more than 780 million “bad ads” for violating its policies. That’s a leap of nearly 50% from 2014, when it blocked 524 million ads.
Because Google parent company Alphabet reels in nearly 90% of its revenue from advertising, the company has enormous incentive to keep its ecosystem free from scammy ads that enrage or endanger users while also finding new ways to protect advertisers from accidental or fraudulent clicks.
That’s why Google has a team of more than 1,000 employees focused on fighting bad ads both through manual review and improving the company’s tech.
Among the kinds of ads that Google tries to zap from its ecosystem are counterfeiters (it suspended more than 18,000 accounts for trying to sell imitation goods this year), weight loss scams (suspending more than 30,000 sites), and unapproved pharmaceuticals (it blocked more than 12.5 million of these kind of ads).
Although those kinds of ads are arguably the worst on the internet (“Buy this pill and lose 40 pounds in 2 week!!!!” gets old quick), Google’s looking out for itself as well as for users when it blocks these kinds of ads. Back in 2011, it settled with the US Department of Justice and had to pay out $500 million on allegations that it knowingly accepted ads from Canadian pharmacies selling drugs illegally in the US. Plus, the more terrible ads there are, the more likely that people will make the effort to install ad blockers.
Google also continued to crack down on “phishing” attempts (it blocked ~7,000 sites that tried to trick users into giving away personal information), unwanted software downloads (it reduced unwanted downloads by Google ads by more than 99%), and ads that look like systems warnings from your computer (blocking more than 17 million of these so-called “trick to click” ads).
Google also vowed that over the course of 2016 it plans to continue to protect against bots. To keep advertisers happy, Google needs them to trust that its ads are reaching actual human beings, not botnets created by fraudsters.
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