Google took down 2.3 billion “bad ads” in 2018, according to its annual report on actions it took to address policy violations on its ad platforms.
That’s about a million fewer ads than it removed in 2017. However, the ad giant said the number of advertiser accounts it terminated last year nearly doubled from the previous year to nearly one million.
Sectors targeted for clean up. For-profit bail bond services, addiction treatment services, third-party tech support, ticket resellers, cryptocurrency and some local services such as garage door repair topped the list of sectors Google focused on in 2018.
It banned bail bond ads effective July 2018 and restricted ads for addiction treatment services to those certified by LegitScript (after suspending them in 2017). Thirty-one new policies went on the books to address abuses by the other industries listed.
On the publisher front. Some 734,000 publisher and app developers were removed from its ad network, and ads were removed entirely from nearly 1.5 million apps, Google said.
In 2017, Google added the ability to identify and remove ads from specific web pages that violate its publisher policies, rather than removing ads from an entire site. With that technology, coupled with manual reviews, the company said it removed ads from more than 27 million pages that violated its policies last year.
The spread and monetization of fake news and misinformation have been a focus for the platform — and lawmakers — for more than two years now. Google added new policies in 2017, and highlighted its efforts in this year’s report, noting it took down ads on roughly 1.2 million pages, 22,000 apps and 15,000 sites for violating policies around misrepresentative, hateful or low-quality content.
Google also launched election ads policies in the U.S. ahead of the midterm elections last year and created a political ads transparency report to provide more information about who bought election ads. It said it verified nearly 143,000 election ads in the U.S.
Why you should care. Bad actors impact every aspect of the digital ecosystem. For good advertisers, they can affect campaign performance and brand safety. Many YouTube advertisers would argue the company still has work to do in policing its own backyard. As the dominant leader in digital advertising, Google is the primary gatekeeper of how and which types of ads appear online.
It’s also regularly updating its ad policies, which can sometimes accidentally affect good actors. On Thursday, Google announced the launch of a new Policy manager to help advertisers navigate policy decisions and restrictions in their accounts.