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Google released its Ads Safety Report for 2020 which asserts that in 2020, globally, Google blocked 3.1 billion bad ads, these included 99 million COVID-19 related ads that spread incorrect information to users. The number of ad accounts Google disabled for policy violations in 2020 increased by over 1.7 million. 

It also blocked or removed over 867 million ads for attempting to evade its detection systems, including cloaking, and an additional 101 million ads for violating the misrepresentation policies.

image-Scott-Spencer-vice-president-–-Ads-Privacy-and-Safety-Google.jpgScott Spencer, vice president – Ads Privacy and Safety, Google, in a blog post said, “In 2020, our policies and enforcement were put to the test as we collectively navigated a global pandemic, multiple elections around the world and the continued fight against bad actors looking for new ways to take advantage of people online.

 “Thousands of Googlers worked around the clock to deliver a safe experience for users, creators, publishers, and advertisers. We know that when we make decisions through the lens of user safety, it will benefit the broader ecosystem. 

“Preserving trust for advertisers and publishers helps their businesses succeed in the long term,” Spencer added.

Google also added or updated more than 40 policies for advertisers and publishers. In addition to blocking or removing approximately 3.1 billion ads for violating Google’s advertising policies, the company restricted an additional 6.4 billion ads. As per the company, malicious and misleading ads related to the pandemic were a major concern throughout the year, including those for miracle cures, N95 masks due to supply shortages, and most recently, fake vaccine doses. 

As the number of COVID-19 cases rose around the world last year, so did the price-gouging of in-demand products and those promoting false cures. 

In 2020, Google has invested in technology to better detect coordinated adversarial behavior, allowing Google to connect the dots across accounts and suspend multiple bad actors at once. Moreover, it improved its automated detection technology and human review processes based on network signals, previous account activity, behavior patterns, and user feedback.

Fighting the newest forms of fraud and scams

Often when we experience a major event like the pandemic, bad actors look for ways to to take advantage of people online. We saw an uptick in opportunistic advertising and fraudulent behavior from actors looking to mislead users last year. Increasingly, we’ve seen them use cloaking to hide from our detection, promote non-existent virtual businesses or run ads for phone-based scams to either hide from detection or lure unsuspecting consumers off our platforms with an aim to defraud them.

In 2020 Google tackled this adversarial behavior in a few key ways: 

  • Introduced multiple new policies and programs including our advertiser identity verification program and business operations verification program. 
  • Invested in technology to better detect coordinated adversarial behavior, allowing us to connect the dots across accounts and suspend multiple bad actors at once.
  • Improved our automated detection technology and human review processes based on network signals, previous account activity, behavior patterns and user feedback.
  • The number of ad accounts we disabled for policy violations increased by 70% from 1 million to over 1.7 million. We also blocked or removed over 867 million ads for attempting to evade our detection systems, including cloaking, and an additional 101 million ads for violating our misrepresentation policies. That’s a total of over 968 million ads.