Google strikes against 350 million malicious and counterfeit ads

Search giant Google pulled more than 350 million suspicious advertisements off its site in 2013 – around a million a day – according to a new infographic it has released.

This was up 59% on the previous year’s figure of 220 million.

Ads pegged for removal included those spruiking counterfeit goods, malicious activity and others that appeared to spread viruses.

The infographic shows Google disapproved three million applications to join its network, and it banned more than 270,000 advertisers from using the network.

Around 14,000 advertisers were barred for trying to sell counterfeit goods, and two million ads were disabled for trying to sell counterfeit pharmaceuticals.

Googledisabled about 400,000 sites that hid malware, and another 10,000 for promoting get-rich-quick schemes.

USA Today reported the increase in ads getting pulled down was partly due to a general increase in the overall number of advertisements; however, it is also reflective of scammers getting more efficient.

Google ads engineering director Mike Hochberg said in the report that the issue was a “challenge”.

“Google continues to add new types of ads and formats all the time, and that creates new work to track down new ways of creating bad ads,” he said.

StewArtMedia founder and search engine optimisation expert Jim Stewart told SmartCompany that there are “lots of scammers and all different ways for people to make money using Google ads”.

Some companies and individuals are using Google services AdWords and AdSense to create advertisements with the intent of implementing malware into a user’s computer, which is then used as a drone to access information on other computers.

In other instances, Stewart says it could be as simple as advertisers using a trademarked keyword they are not authorised to use.

“In some cases it can be a breach of the Google terms of service, without realising,” he says.

“When Google do policy changes, they have banned ads retrospectively after the policy change.”

He advises businesses using Google ad services to keep on top of the search giant’s terms of service and to create ads accordingly.

Stewart says this is especially important in industries under high regulation, such as pharmaceuticals or finance.

“If it is not something you’d tell your mum about, you shouldn’t be advertising it,” he says.

He thinks the year ahead will see an increase in people setting up fake accounts to try and get past previous Google bans. However, he also thinks suspicious ads will be removed more quickly as screening gets more sophisticated.

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