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Google outlines how it took down 2.3bn bad ads in 2018

Google has revealed that it took down 2.3 billion bad ads in 2018 for violating both new and existing policies. This includes approximately 207,000 ads for ticket resellers, over 531,000 ads for bail bonds and approximately 58.8 million phishing ads.

In a “bad ads” report, Scott Spencer, director of sustainable ads, Google, said that the company invested in team hours and technological resources in protecting the users, advertisers and publishers. The report highlights the key actions and data about its efforts to keep the ecosystem safe by enforcing its policies across platforms.

As such, the search engine company also said that it applied dozens of new ads policies to take down billions of bad ads. This came following the company’s challenges in areas where online advertising could be used to scam or defraud users offline. Google introduced 31 new ads policies last year to address abuses in areas including third-party tech support, ticket resellers, cryptocurrency and local services such as garage door repairmen, bail bonds and rehab facilities.

In addition to tackling the issue of bad ads online, Google is also working to ensure advertisers’ creatives are policy compliant. Similar to its AdSense Policy Center, the company will be launching a new policy manager in Google Ads next month that will give tips on common policy mistakes. Using machine learning technology, the team at Google was also able to identify and terminate almost one million bad advertiser accounts, nearly double the amount it terminated in 2017.

“When we take action at the account level, it helps to address the root cause of bad ads and better protect our users,” Spencer said. He added that the company launched 330 detection classifiers to better detect “badness” at the page level, while in 2017 it launched new technology that allows for more granular removal of ads from websites when only a small number of pages on a site were violating its policies.

The company had terminated nearly 734,000 publishers and app developers from its ad network, and removed ads completely from nearly 1.5 million apps. Spencer added that the team was also able to take “more granular” action by taking ads off nearly 28 million pages that violated its publisher policies.

Addressing key challenges within the digital ads ecosystem

From reports of “fake news” sites, to questions about who is purchasing political ads, to massive ad fraud operations, there are fundamental concerns about the role of online advertising in society. Last year, Google launched a new policy for election ads in the US ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. It verified nearly 143,000 election ads in the US and launched a new political ads transparency report that gives more information about who bought election ads. This year it will be launching similar tools ahead of elections in the EU and India.

“We also continued to tackle the challenge of misinformation and low-quality sites, using several different policies to ensure our ads are supporting legitimate, high-quality publishers. In 2018, we removed ads from approximately 1.2 million pages, more than 22,000 apps, and nearly 15,000 sites across our ad network for violations of policies directed at misrepresentative, hateful or other low-quality content,” Spencer said.

More specifically, it removed ads from almost 74,000 pages for violating the “dangerous or derogatory” content policy, and took down approximately 190,000 ads for violating this policy. This policy includes a prohibition on hate speech and protects the users, advertisers and publishers from hateful content across platforms.

“We will continue to tackle these issues because as new trends and online experiences emerge, so do new scams and bad actors. In 2019, our work to protect users and enable a safe advertising ecosystem that works well for legitimate advertisers and publishers continues to be a top priority,” Spencer said.

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