Google releases 2018 ‘Bad Ads Report’

Google released the 2018 ‘Bad Ads Report’. This year, Google took down 2.3 billion ads that violated its advertising policies, making it six million

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In line with its commitment to making the web a better place for consumers by protecting them from misleading, inappropriate, or harmful ads, Google released the 2018 ‘Bad Ads Report’. This year, Google took down 2.3 billion ads that violated its advertising policies, making it six million bad ads were banned, everyday.


Aimed at making it easier for advertisers to ensure their creatives are policy compliant, Google will launch a new Policy Manager in Google Ads. This new policy center will give tips on common policy mistakes to help well-meaning advertisers and make it easier to create and launch compliant ads.

“At Google, we take our responsibility to help create a healthy and sustainable advertising ecosystem that works for everyone, seriously. Our ads are meant to connect users with relevant businesses, products and services; but bad ads ruins the experience. We, at Google, have been working towards protecting the users, advertisers and publishers by investing significant technological resources. And, every year, through our ‘Bad Ads Report’, we share key actions and data to keep the ecosystem safe through our policies across platforms. This will continue to remain our top priority as bad ads pose a threat to users, Google’s partners, and the sustainability of the open web itself,“ said Scott Spencer, Director of Sustainable Ads, Google.

Last year, Google undertook multiple steps to tackle misleading ads on its platform. First, Google expanded its advertising policies by introducing 31 new advertiser policies to address abuses in areas, such as third-party tech support, ticket resellers, cryptocurrency, as well as local services such as garage door repairmen, bail bonds and rehab facilities.


Second, Google went after the bad actors behind numerous bad ads and not just the ads themselves. Using improved machine learning technology, Google identified and terminated almost one million bad advertiser accounts, nearly double the amount that were terminated in 2017. Action at the account level, helps address the root cause of bad ads and better protect users. For example, 330 detection classifiers were launched to help better detect ‘badness’ at the page level — that's nearly three times the number of classifiers that were launched in 2017. Nearly 734,000 publishers and app developers were terminated from the Google ad network, and removed ads completely from nearly 1.5 million apps. Google also took more granular action by taking ads off of nearly 28 million pages that violated the publisher policies.

Third, from reports of ‘fake news’ sites, to questions about the purchase of political ads, Google launched a new policy for election ads in the U.S. ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Nearly 143,000 election ads in the U.S. were verified and listed in a new political ads transparency report that gave more information about who bought election ads. Similarly, an India-specific Political Advertising Transparency Report and searchable Political Ads Library will go live, before the Lok-Sabha elections in April.

And, finally, Google also continued to tackle the challenge of misinformation and low-quality sites, using several different policies to ensure its ads were supporting legitimate, high-quality publishers. In 2018, approximately 1.2 million pages, over 22,000 apps, and nearly 15,000 sites across its ad network were removed for violations of policies directed at misrepresentative, hateful or other low-quality content.


More specifically, almost 74,000 pages for violating Google’s ‘dangerous or derogatory’ content policy were removed, taking down approximately 190,000 ads for policy violations. This policy includes a prohibition on hate speech and protects users, advertisers and publishers from hateful content across platforms.

Google will continue to tackle these issues, because as new trends and online experiences emerge, so do new scams and bad actors.

How Google took down one of the biggest ad fraud operations ever in 2018

In 2018, Google worked closely with cybersecurity firm White Ops, the FBI, and others in the industry to take down one of the largest and most complex international ad fraud operations ever seen. Codenamed "3ve", the operation used sophisticated tactics aimed at exploiting data centers, computers infected with malware, spoofed fraudulent domains, and fake websites. In aggregate, 3ve produced more than 10,000 counterfeit domains, and generated over 3 billion daily bid requests at its peak.

3ve tried to evade our enforcements, but Google conducted a coordinated takedown of their infrastructure. It referred the case to the FBI, and late last year charges were announced against eight individuals for crimes including aggravated identity theft and money laundering. Learn more about 3ve and Google’s work to take it down, on Google’s Security Blog, as well as through this white paper co-authored with White Ops.