Online advertising helps fund content and businesses on the web, from small family-owned shops to large publishers. While online advertising helps the web to work for all of us, this ecosystem can also attract bad actors that aim to misuse ads for harmful or deceptive purposes.
We work hard to keep our advertising ecosystem clean for users, advertisers, and publishers, and continue to invest substantial resources to stop bad advertising practices. We have a team of analysts who work around the clock to protect users, and continue to hone our detection technology to identify bad ads and stop bad actors as it’s a vital part of keeping our ads ecosystem clean.
As an example, last summer our analysis technology flagged a set of accounts as suspicious. To the human eye, the ads looked like ordinary rental property ads that met our policies. After we dug in deeper, we discovered that the system was right to be suspicious - the vacation rentals turned out to be a scam and the rental properties didn't exist. Our systems learn from incidents like these, helping us more effectively catch and remove bad ads and advertisers.
For the past several years, we’ve shared insight into our efforts to fight bad actors on the web. Today, we’re sharing new data on how we fought bad advertising practices over the past year. Overall, we disabled more than 524 million bad ads and banned more than 214, 000 advertisers in 2014. While this represents a tiny fraction of the total ads on our platform - the vast majority of advertisers follow our policies and act responsibly - we continue to remain vigilant to protect users against bad advertising practices.
Here’s a look into some of the trends we fought against last year:
- Combating counterfeiters: Our relentless crackdown on counterfeit goods is producing powerful results. We banned 7, 000 advertisers for promoting counterfeit goods, down from 14, 000 in 2013 (and 82, 000 in 2012), demonstrating that counterfeiters are increasingly unable to circumvent our advanced enforcement systems.
- Protecting against malicious software: To protect the safety and security of our users, we stop all ads pointing to sites where we find malware - whether it’s spyware, adware or other types of malicious software. Last year we removed 250, 000 sites from our network for hiding forms of malware.
- Weighing in against weight loss scams: While many advertisers selling dietary supplements provide accurate information, some bad actors use outrageous claims to entice consumers. In 2014 TrustInAds.org, a group which includes Google, AOL, Yahoo and others, released a report showing that we had collectively removed or rejected more than 2.5 million ads related to weight loss and dietary supplements over the past 18 months.
This is a constantly evolving fight. Bad actors continually create more sophisticated systems and scams, so we too are continually evolving our practices, technology, and methodology in fighting these bad ads. The security of our users is the foundation of our ecosystem, and we’ll continue to work tirelessly to keep people safe online. If you’d like to provide feedback on specific ads or our policies, check out our online form.