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Why Google removed over 5.2 billion ads on its platform in 2022

Why Google removed over 5.2 billion ads on its platform in 2022

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Tech giant Google has removed over 5.2 billion ads and suspended over 6.7 million advertiser accounts in 2022 according to its 2022 Ads Safety Report which was released by the company on 29 March.

In 2022, Google also restricted over 4.3 billion ads as well as blocked or removed 142 million advertisements for violating its misrepresentation policy and 198 million advertisements for violating its financial services policy.

This represents an increase of two billion more ads removed in 2022 from the previous year, according to Google. It also blocked or restricted ads from serving on over 1.5 billion publisher pages and took broader site-level enforcement action on over 143,000 publisher sites. 

Don't miss: Lush turns its back on Google ads in 'big tech rebellion'

To enforce its policies at this scale, the tech giant relied on a combination of human reviews and automated systems powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. This helped the platform sort through content and better detect violations across the globe.

Google also makes ongoing investments to its policies and enforcements so that users can have the safest possible experience online, the release said.

"In 2022, we added or updated 29 policies for advertisers and publishers. This included expanding our financial services verification program to 10 new countries, expanding protections for teens and strengthening our elections ads policies," it said.

In 2022, Google also expanded its financial services certification programme which requires advertisers to demonstrate that they are authorised by their local regulator to promote their products and services. This added a new layer of security against fraudsters and further safeguards people from financial scams.

 To date, Google has launched this programme in 11 countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, and Singapore. The tech company plans to further expand this programme in the coming months. 

"Over a one-month period at the end of 2022, we blocked and removed tens of thousands of malicious advertisements and took action against the accounts associated with the bad ads," said Google.

googles number of ads blocked or removed graph

Blocking and removing harmful content and combating misinformation

In the past few years, Google has developed extensive measures to tackle misinformation and unreliable claims in its advertising ecosystem. This includes its policies against harmful health claims and demonstrably false claims that could undermine trust and participation in elections. Google also developed a policy against climate change denial.

Google blocked ads from running on over 300,000 publisher pages that violated these policies and blocked over 24 million policy-violating ads from serving in 2022. In addition, it blocked and removed over 51.2 million ads for inappropriate content including hate speech, violence and harmful health claims and 20.6 million ads for dangerous products or services such as weapons and explosives.

Ahead of major elections around the world, Google continued its efforts to provide voters with reliable information about the election ads they saw on its platforms, according to the release.

"As part of that work, we expanded our verification and transparency program for election ads, verifying over 5,900 new advertising accounts in the U.S. and over 2,300 in Brazil. Election ads from these advertisers," it said.

Google also blocked over 2.6 million election ads that came from advertisers who had not completed its required verification process.

Also, to prioritise child safety, Google blocked ads targeting and personalisation for young kids. Google filtered mature ad categories such as sexually explicit content and ads for gambling, alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs.

In 2021, the platform announced that it would expand these protections to all users under the age of 18 globally. This includes blocking ad targeting based on age, gender or interests and preventing additional age-sensitive ad categories from serving to teens. Google began rolling out these changes in Europe and completed that process globally last year. It also prohibits ads promoting dating apps, contests and sweepstakes, as well as weight loss products to people under 18.

googles number of pages that have been taken action against in 2022 graph

Empowering users with more information and control

Not only about blocking ads, to empower users, Google also launched My Ad Center which helps people control the kinds of ads they see across Google on Search, YouTube and Discover in October last year. It allows them to limit ads from sensitive categories and learn more about the information used to personalise their ad experience. In the first three months after the launch, Google has seen more than 70 million visits to My Ad Center globally, with people adjusting their ad preferences on more than 20% of those visits, according to its statement.

Google also invested significantly in giving helpful information to users about its advertisers.

In 2020, we began verifying advertiser identity and today we verify them in more than 240 countries and regions.

In 2021, Google launched advertiser pages in the US which shows basic information about a verified advertiser like where they are located, what type of business they provide and other advertisements they have recently run.

In 2022, Google expanded this programme globally.

Google is also launching a new transparency tool, the Ads Transparency Center, a searchable repository of verified advertisers across all of our platforms, including Search, Display, and YouTube, that lets people search for a particular advertiser and view the advertiser page.

Responding to the war in Ukraine

To tackle the issues of ads on the war in Ukraine, Google prohibited ads that exploit, dismiss or condone the war following the start of the war. This is in addition to its longstanding policies prohibiting content that incites violence or denies the occurrence of tragic events to run as ads or monetise using its services.

It also paused the majority of its commercial activities in Russia across Google's products. The tech giant paused ads from showing in Russia along with ads from Russian-based advertisers and paused monetisation of Russian state-funded media across its platforms.

Throughout 2022, we remained vigilant enforcing these policies and blocked more than 17 million ads related to the war in Ukraine under our sensitive event policy. Separately, we removed ads from more than 275 state-funded media sites across our platforms.

MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to Google for more information.

On a separate note, cosmetics brand Lush is moving away from tech giants such as Meta and Google in favour of smaller, more agile and open-source communities. It is also cutting the investment on Google ads to interact with customers in more ethically sound digital spaces such as the metaverse. This is part of Lush's “big tech rebellion".

This comes as a Lush research found that barely half (52%) of respondents believe Google and Amazon are considered trustworthy sources of ethical information. Furthermore, a significant 57% of consumers feel like big brands and corporations dominate technology and online culture, while 55% want big tech to have less control online, its survey found.

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