Google pulls out 3.2 billion ads from websites

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From BAYO AZEEZ, Lagos

Global technology giant, Google, has disclosed that it blocked a total of 3.2 billion online advertisements confirmed to be malicious and misleading from various websites across the globe in 2017.

This was disclosed by the company’s Head of Global Product Policy – Monetised Products, Google Trust and Safety, Jessica Stansfield who was in Nigeria on Monday.

Addressing select journalists, Jessica said in 2017, Google took down more than 3.2 billion ads, up from 700 million in 2015 and 1.7 billion affected by same punitive action for failing to meet certain general and specific ethical codes of advertising in 2017.

The latest figure disclosed by the Google Trust and Safety indicates the astronomical rate at which bad ads are being pushed to the online space by bad actors, having soared annually by 357 per cent in 2016 and 88 per cent last year.

This also implied that an average of 100 bad ads were being discovered and pulled down per second in 2017 by Google to protect users.

Giving the breakdown of the enforcement which was predicated on Google’s policies and ethical provisions of countries in which it operates, Standsfield said over 12,000 websites were blocked for scraping content from other websites.

She added, “We suspended 7,000 AdWords accounts for tabloid cloaking violations up from 1,400 in 2016 and we also removed more than 130 milliom ads last year for trying to abuse our ad network through malicious activity or by attempting to trick and circumvent our ad review processes.

“We blocked 79 million ads on our network for automatically sending people to malware-laden sites, and removed 400,000 of these unsafe sites,” adding that Google also blocked “trick to click” ads and 48 million ads that were attempting to get users to install unwanted software.

Jessica further explained that in the year under review, Google removed 320,000 bad publishers from its ad network, and blocked nearly 90,000 websites and 700,000 mobile apps for policy violations.

Meanwhile, to further sanitise the online ads space, the digital technology giant introduced new technology called page-level enforcement which according to Stansfied, allows Google to remove its ads from over two million Universal Resource Locators (URLs) every month.

She explained that every action taking against bad ads and bad Internet actors were reinforced by Google ads policies which are      being reviewed regularly to take care of the dynamic situation.

According to her, Google added 28 new advertiser policies and 20 new publisher policies to combat new threats and improve the ads experience online in 2017.

Google has also taken frantic steps to cleanse the online space of dangerous and derogatory contents by launching an expanded policy in April 2017 to cover forms of discrimination and intolerance beyond hate speech protections, which led to removal of Google ads from 8,700 pages.

If a website found guilty of bad ads and contents is not running on Google network, the digital giant, though not empowered to shot down the site, denies the publisher of such sites ad revenue coming from Google ad network.

Impact of Google ad policies is also felt in the area of misrepresentation content which brought about review of 1,200 sites for suspected violations of the policy, blocking 340 of those sites and terminating 200 publishers.

“The following year, we reviewed over 11,000 websites for potentially violating this same policy, most in the first six months of the year. Of these 11,000 websites, we blocked more than 650 websites and terminated 90 publishers from our ad network,” Stansdfield said.

“This year, we are adding several new policies that will address ads in unregulated, overly complex, or speculative financial products like binary options, cryptocurrency, foreign exchange markets and contracts for difference (or CFDs).

“We have already updated our gambling policies to address new methods of gambling with items that have real-world value, such as skins gambling,” she concluded.

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