Google says it removed 3.2 billion ads last year. | Getty Images
Each year, Google releases a report detailing how many ads it blocked, cleaned and filtered from its digital pipes. The annual report offers both a major sampling of what bots and other bad-actor buyers try to use platforms, and showcases Google’s own efforts in maintaining its marketplace.
According to the 2017 report released today, Google says it removed 3.2 billion ads from its platforms in 2017, nearly double the total number of “bad ads” from just a year earlier. Google said that equates to removing about 100 ads per second.
“In order for this ads-supported, free web to work, it needs to be a safe and effective place to learn, create and advertise,” Scott Spencer, Google’s director of sustainable ads, wrote in a blog post. “Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Whether it’s a one-off accident or a coordinated action by scammers trying to make money, a negative experience hurts the entire ecosystem.”
Google is also taking preemptive measures to combat the rise of ads related to promoting fraudulent financial products. Starting in June, Google will ban ads for unregulated or speculative products such as cryptocurrency, binary options and foreign exchange markets. The announcement echoes changes made at other companies including Twitter and Facebook, which have already announced their own plans to protect users from cryptocurrency scams.
These policies come at a time of a burgeoning digital gold rush—and like actual gold rushes, there are scammers and charlatans looking to make big money preying on Average Joes and Janes who want to get rich quick. Since Google and Facebook serve as the dominating online advertising venues, the two companies working on getting ahead of bad actors trying to sell their wares. Like most issues concerning ad fraud, this is a game of whack-a-mole, and it’s unclear if these preemptive measures will work in the long run.
The ads blocked or removed come from a wide ranging source of websites and apps. Here are some of the other numbers related to ads removed last year:
79 million ads were blocked in Google’s network for trying to send malware-laden websites, with 400,000 unsafe sites removed.
66 million were “trick-to-click” ads.
48 million ads were removed for attempting to install unwanted software.
320,000 publishers were removed for violating publisher policies.
90,000 websites and 700,000 mobile apps were blacklisted.
2 million pages were removed every month for policy violations, which Google says has been “critical in scaling enforcement for “policies that prohibit monetization of inappropriate and controversial content.”
8,700 pages were removed for violating expanded policies related to discrimination and intolerance.
12,000 websites were blocked for “‘scraping,’ duplicating or copying” content from other websites. (That’s up from 10,000 last year.)
7,000 AdWords accounts were suspended for tabloid violations (up from 1,400 in 2016).