Google is taking no chances in ensuring that its billions of users have the safest possible experience online. In its 2022 Ads Safety Report [pdf], the tech giant revealed that it removed over 5.2 billion ads, restricted over 4.3 billion ads, and suspended over 6.7 million advertiser accounts.
“This represents an increase of 2 billion more ads removed in 2022 from the previous year. We also blocked or restricted ads from serving on over 1.5 billion publisher pages and took broader site-level enforcement action on over 143,000 publisher sites,” the company’s Director, Product Management, Ads Safety, Alejandro Borgia, said in a blog post today.
According to Borgia, Google updated 29 policies for advertisers and publishers in 2022, including expanding its financial services verification program to 10 new countries, expanding protections for teens, and strengthening its election ads policies.
Today, the tech giant also launched a new transparency tool, the Ads Transparency Center, a searchable repository of verified advertisers across all its platforms, including Search, Display, and YouTube, that lets people search for a particular advertiser and view the advertiser page.
Why the ads were blocked
The report said the tech giant enforced sixteen policies in blocking 5.2 billion ads last year. Leading the pack is the Abusing The Ad Network policy, which led to the removal of 1.3 billion ads, followed by Trademark and Legal Requirements with 562 million and 343 million ads, respectively. Others include Personalized Ads (302 million), Financial Services (198 million), Misrepresentation (142 million), Gambling and Games (136 million), and Adult Content (129 million).
The rest are Healthcare and Medicines (96 million), Copyrights (83.7 million), Inappropriate Content (51.2 million), Dangerous Products or Services (20.6 million), the war in Ukraine (17 million), Enabling Dishonest Behaviour (12.5 million), Alcohol (9.2 million), and Counterfeit Goods (1.3 million).
Similarly, a number of policies were adopted in the restriction of over 4.3 billion ads. These policies, according to Google, “cover content that is sometimes legally or culturally sensitive”. Unlike blocked ads, restricted ads may be allowed to be promoted, but on a limited basis.
A further breakdown shows that the Restricted Businesses policy saw the restriction of 550 million ads, while 503 million ads were restricted for failing to meet Local Legal Requirements, and 237 million restricted ads fall under the Financial Services category. Others are Adult Content (163 million), Gambling and Games (130 million), Healthcare and Medicines (124 million), Copyrights (83.4 million), and Alcohol (55 million).
Regarding publisher content, Google took action against a total of 1.57 billion pages in 2022 across 10 different areas, with Sexual Content topping the list with 1.15 billion pages, while 116 million pages were penalized for derogatory content, 110 million pages for Weapons Promotions and Sales.
Under shocking content, 59 million pages were affected, while Tobacco and Online Gambling saw 35 million and 30 million pages restricted, respectively. Others are Intellectual Property Abuse (11.5 million), Malicious or Unwanted Software (4.5 million), and Sexually Explicit Content (2.5 million).
For Google, improving ads experience is key
Google’s Borgia says the company is “committed to leading the industry in giving users more information about the ads they see and putting them in control of their ads experience” in addition to existing policies and enforcement.
In 2020, the company introduced a global advertiser identity verification program that requires its advertisers to verify information about their businesses, where they operate from, and what they’re selling or promoting.
Last October, the company launched My Ad Center, which helps users control the kinds of ads they see, limit ads that may be sensitive – such as alcohol, dating, weight loss, gambling, and pregnancy – and learn more about the information used to personalize their ad experience across Google on Search, YouTube, and Discover. According to Google, more than 70 million visits to My Ad Center have been recorded in the first three months after launch.
Google further said it expanded its verification and transparency program for election ads, verifying over 5,900 new advertising accounts in the U.S. and over 2,300 in Brazil. It also blocked over 2.6 million election ads from advertisers who had not completed our required verification process.