Unless you are publishing online you are probably unaware of how prevalent ad fraud has become. Last week, Scott Spencer from Google’s Director of Product Management, Sustainable Advertising, shared some insights into the problems that Google faces with bad ads and how it has been dealing with them.
Advertising is essential to maintain a free and open web, but unfortunately, some adverts are ruining the Internet by promoting illegal products or unrealistic offers; worst still, some adverts are designed to trick people into installing malware and other harmful software.
Google has strict policies in place to prevent their own advertising platforms from being exploited by criminals, and they have been working tirelessly for years to fight what they call “bad actors”.
1.7 billion bad ads removed
In 2016, Google took action against 1.7 billion adverts – twice the number removed in 2015. Because of the vast number of adverts being pushed onto Google’s networks, they have implements many technological solutions to automate the detection and removing of bad adverts, as well as the banning of accounts. Over the last year they have tackled bad ads in two main ways:
Google has tightened up its policies on what products and services can be advertised. For example, last summer they banned adverts for payday loans, which allowed them to disable 5 million ads.
In additional to payday loans, Google has tackled a wide array of other ads that promote illegal activities and products, such as pharmaceuticals (although mostly an American problem) and illegal gambling adverts. In 2016, Google blocked more than 68 million “healthcare” ads and 17 million illegal gambling ads.
Detection of “Trick to Click” ads
Google can now automatically detect and remove “trick to click” ads. These are the ads that usually result in viruses and malware, as they are designed to trick browsers into downloading harmful software. Examples include adverts suggesting that the reader updates their Flash Player to view a video, or claiming that the user has a virus that needs to be cleaned.
Trick-to-click is not restricted to ads offering to remove viruses though. Popular misleading ads also included ads displaying false information, such as “are you at risk from this rare, skin-eating disease?” and ads offering miracle weight loss cures. Last year, Google removed 80 million deceptive ads that were designed to shock readers into clicking, and overall, in 2016 Google effectively detected and removed 112 million “trick to click” adverts, which is a six-fold increase on 2015.
Self clicking ads on mobile
A new, growing threat, is seen in the form of “self-clicking” adverts on mobile. These are the ads that trigger an automatic app download when you visit a website. While this problem has not affected many people, Google has reported that occurrences have doubled in the last year.
Bad ads tend to lead to bad sites, so as well as removing bad ads, Google has been actively banning bad sites from their networks. In 2016, Google took action against 47,000 weight loss websites, 15,000 malware download sites, and 6,000 fake goods websites.
A stronger advertising solution
It is largely due to Google’s aggressive stance against bad ads that it has become the advertising platform of choice. Publishers can feel safe that inviting Google advertisers on to their websites will not result in them losing readers due to unethical advertising. It is for this reason that OKO has chosen to partner with Google, to help bring improved advertising standards to the Internet, which also means higher revenues for our publishing partners.
We are confident that we can help you increase your advertising revenue by implementing our suite of Google ad solutions, which is possibly the safest, spam-free advertising platform in the world.
Mat has been supporting content creators on the web since 1996. As Co-founder of OKO Digital, Mat became the first person in the UK qualified to AdSense partner status and repeated this first with Google Certified Publishing Partner programme.