Google blocked 780m ‘bad ads’ in 2015. Woah

Bad ads aren’t only fraudulent. Last year, Google disabled 780 million ads for infractions such as promoting counterfeit products and being too close to mobile buttons.

Earlier this week, we covered Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and White Ops research that estimated ad fraud would cost advertisers $7.2 billion this year. But while fighting bad ads is usually associated with organizations like the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), fraudulent ads aren’t the only bad ones.

Yesterday, Google released its Better Ads Report 2015, highlighting all the moves it made last year to fight other varieties of bad ads.

The search giant has a laundry list of restrictions, such as ads for counterfeit products; ads promoting low-quality sites strictly focused on generating traffic; and ads that contain malware. In 2015, 780 million of those ads were disabled through a combination of algorithms and Google’s team of more than 1,000 ad reviewers.


Some of the main perpetrators include:

  • More than 12.5 million pharmaceutical ads violating Google’s healthcare policy, which doesn’t allow misleading claims or products that haven’t been approved.
  • Scammers – more than 30,000 of them – peddling supplements that promised impossible-to-achieve weight loss
  • Nearly 7,000 phishing sites that trick people into giving their personal information
  • Ads that trick people into interacting, such as those designed to look like warnings from the computer.
  • Unwanted software that can slow down your devices or change your homepage. Google disabled more than 10,000 sites like this, as a result, reducing unwanted downloads from ads by 99 percent.
  • Counterfeiters, such as those selling imitation watches or Canal Street’s finest “Louie Vitton” bags. More than 10,000 sites and 18,000 accounts were suspended for this.


  • Ads that seem relevant at first glance, but do subtly bad things like cover up what you’re trying to see or send you to a site you didn’t want to go to. The redirecting is especially applicable to mobile ads, which generate tons of accidental clicks. Google is working on a technology that will not only combat that, but save advertisers on the impressions.
  • In-app ads that don’t follow Google’s policies. More than 25,000 apps were penalized for this, doing things such as placing ads very close to buttons, which results in many accidental clicks. Similarly, the company has rejected more than 1.4 million applications.

In addition to its massive team, Google also disabled so many bad ads, in part because of feedback. A feature called “Mute This Ad” allows users to opt out of ads and tell the search giant why – in 2015, 4 billion users shared their opinions. People can also file their interests, ensuring more relevant ads.

This year?

Google vowed that it would continue to battle bad ads, with refined restrictions on suspect weight loss products and new protections against malware and bots.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), too, will continue to work in this area and are in fact meeting next week in Palm Springs, California, to discuss the industry’s future at the annual Leadership Meeting.

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