Advertisements Safety Report: In 2023, Google rejected 5.5 billion advertisements due to policy violations.

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Tech giant, Google announced that it blocked or removed over 5.5 billion ads for violating its policies in 2023. That equals more than 9,000 ads per minute. This is one of the highlights of its 2023 Ads Safety Report.

The key trend in 2023 was the impact of generative AI. This new technology introduced significant and exciting changes to the digital advertising industry, from performance optimization to image editing.

The report shares information on how Google harnessed the power of AI and large-language models, including Gemini, to make enforcement efforts faster, stronger, and more accurate. AI-powered enforcement efforts have enabled the brand to enforce its policies at scale.

According to Duncan Lennox, VP & GM of Ads Privacy and Safety, scams and fraud across all online platforms were on the rise in 2023. Bad actors are constantly evolving their tactics to manipulate digital advertising to scam people and legitimate businesses alike.

“The bad actors behind these ads have grown more sophisticated”, Duncan said. “Take, for example, our policy against Unreliable Financial Claims. These include ads promoting get-rich-quick schemes. They adjusted their tactics and tailor ads around new financial services or products, such as investment advice or digital currencies, to scam users”, he added.

To counter the ever-shifting threats, Google had to update its policies, deploy rapid-response enforcement teams and sharpen its detection techniques. “Our safety teams have long used AI-driven machine learning systems to enforce our policies at scale. Hence, we have been able to detect and block billions of bad ads before a person ever sees them”, he explained.

However, the company admitted that generative AI also presented new challenges. “We take these challenges seriously and will outline the work we are doing to address them head-on. Our teams are embracing this transformative technology, specifically Large Language Models (LLMs), so that we can better keep people safe online”, he added.

In all, AI has helped the platform to improve enforcement on all fronts. In 2023, Google blocked or removed over 5.5 billion ads and 12.7 million advertiser accounts, nearly double from the previous year. The company also blocked or restricted ads from serving on more than 2.1 billion publisher pages, up slightly from 2022.

The company also took enforcement action on more than 395,000 publisher sites in 2023.

Google’s other efforts to prevent fraud and scams

In November 2023, Google launched its Limited Ads Serving, a policy designed to protect users by limiting the reach of advertisers with whom the platform is less familiar. In with this, Google implemented a “get-to-know-you” period for advertisers who don’t yet have an established track record of good behaviour.

During this period, impressions for their ads might be limited when there is an unclear relationship between the advertiser and a brand they are referencing. Ultimately,

According to Duncan, Limited Ads Serving is still in its early stages. Going forward, it will help ensure well-intentioned advertisers can build up trust with users while limiting the reach of bad actors and reducing the risk of scams and misleading ads.

The report also highlights Google’s ability to respond to new abuse trends quickly. For example, late last year, a targeted campaign of ads featuring the likeness of public figures -often through the use of deep fakes- to scam users was widespread. Google said that when it detected this threat, it created a dedicated team to respond immediately.

“We pinpointed patterns in the bad actors’ behaviour, trained our automated enforcement models to detect similar ads and began removing them at scale. We also updated our misrepresentation policy to better enable us to rapidly suspend the accounts of bad actors”, Duncan explained.

Overall, Google blocked or removed 206.5 million advertisements for violating its misrepresentation policy in 2023. This includes many scam tactics and 273.4 million advertisements. The tech giant also blocked or removed over 1 billion advertisements for abusing the ad network, which includes promoting malware.

Duncan admits that the fight against scam ads is an ongoing effort. And, Google will continue to dedicate extensive resources, make significant investments in detection technology and partner with organizations like the Global Anti-Scam Alliance and Stop Scams UK to facilitate information sharing and protect consumers worldwide.

Ads safety: looking ahead

When it comes to ad safety, a lot can change over in just a year. The introduction of new technology such as generative AI can quickly influence global trends. Hence, the digital advertising space has to be nimble and ready to react.

On its part, Google said that it is continuously developing new policies, strengthening its enforcement systems, deepening cross-industry collaboration and offering more control to people, publishers and advertisers with over 31 major technology updates in 2023. “Though we don’t yet know what the rest of 2024 has in store for us, we are confident that our investments in policy, detection and enforcement will prepare us for any challenges ahead”, he concluded.