Google Cracks Down on Bad Ads

Google’s Bad Ads report shows action taken in 2016 to remove and ban deceptive advertising tactics

Finally, Google has decided to start cracking down on misleading and bad ads that look like news articles, or system errors that deceive users. When you think about it, these advertisers are paying for clickbait which probably has a high bounce rate and wastes their money anyway. Should Google just take the money and run? Not so much. Google calls these “trick to click” ads, and they’ve decided enough is enough with deceptive advertising practices.

According to Search Engine Land, “In its annual Bad Ads report, Google says it took down more than double the number of ads in 2016 that it did in 2015 by removing 1.7 billion ads, compared to the 780 million removed in 2015.”

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One type of ad they removed are certain payday loan ads. “The new policy of removing payday loan ads that don’t meet certain criteria went into effect in July,” reports Search Engine Land.

We’ve been writing a lot about Google’s spin on fake news lately, and their plight includes eradicating fake news ads from their network as well. SEL writes, “In a year when “fake news” became news, it’s not all that surprising that fake news ads, or “tabloid cloaking” ads, proliferated. These are the kinds of ads that look like news or entertainment headlines and take users to sites selling things like weight-loss products. Google suspended more than 1,300 accounts in 2016 but says this type of ad is gaining traction because they get clicks.”

Google wrote on their blog, the reason for the update:

“We have a strict set of policies that govern the types of ads we do and don’t allow on Google in order to protect people from misleading, inappropriate, or harmful ads. And we have a team of engineers, policy experts, product managers and others who are waging a daily fight against bad actors. Over the years, this commitment has made the web a better place for you—and a worse place for those who seek to abuse advertising systems for their own gain.”

“Trick to click” ads, which generally refers to alerts that say there’s a system error, but generally leads the user to download malware, are especially targeted. Google says, “In 2016, our systems detected and disabled a total of 112 million ads for “trick to click,” 6X more than in 2015.”

A major trend in advertising is something Google calls tabloid cloaking. They write, “In 2016, we saw the rise of tabloid cloakers, a new type of scammer that tries to game our system by pretending to be news. Cloakers often take advantage of timely topics—a government election, a trending news story or a popular celebrity—and their ads can look like headlines on a news website. But when people click on that story about Ellen DeGeneres and aliens, they go to a site selling weight-loss products, not a news story.”

You can read the full report from Google right here. I suggest it!

So how does this apply to you as a publisher? Most of this falls into the “good to know” category, but if you happen to be engaging in any deceitful ad practices, be assured that just because you’re paying for Google’s ad platform doesn’t mean you don’t have rules to play by.


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