- Google removed 2.3 billion bad ads in 2018 for violating new and existing policies, according to a company blog post. That total means that more than 6 million bad ads were scrubbed per day.
- Breaking the figures down, those included nearly 207,000 ads for ticket resellers, over 531,000 ads for bail bonds and approximately 58.8 million phishing ads. Google also removed nearly 734,000 publishers and app developers from its ad network, removed ads completely from nearly 1.5 million apps and took ads off of nearly 28 million pages that violated publisher policies.
- Additionally, Google removed ads from approximately 1.2 million pages, more than 22,000 apps and nearly 15,000 sites across its ad network for violating policies about misrepresentative, hateful or other low-quality content. It used a combination of manual reviews and machine learning to suss out violations.
Google has supported several transparency initiatives in recent years, with the goal of cleaning up the digital ad ecosystem, bettering the consumer experience and defending its dominance of the digital ad market. The efforts appear to be making something of a difference, as the number of bad ads that needed to be excised seemed to lower last year. Previously, Google said it removed 3.2 billion bad ads which violated its policies in 2017.
However, some in the industry are wary of a company that both commands the largest amount of advertising revenue and is also the arbiter of what constitutes a good or a bad advertisement. This concern has particularly grown among publishers who fear being penalized for things like user comments that violate Google's policies, according to a report in Business Insider, though they can appeal those penalties. Others view some of Google's moves as a means for it to shore up a larger market for for its Chrome web browser, since more companies might feel incentivized to optimize for the product, per Business Insider.
Google has worked deliberately to build out more controls for marketers, however. It recently announced a new policy manager in Google Ads, which rolls out in April and offers a way for advertisers to monitor the policy restrictions of ads, keywords and extensions. Last year, the company added the capability for advertisers to see what caused their ads to be disapproved and plans to expand the tool's functionality in 2019. Under the new feature, advertisers will also be able to appeal any actions that Google has taken with their ads in real time.
Last week, Google also said that it would transition inventory to a unified first price auction for its Ad Manager platform, a move that intends to simplify programmatic ad buying and "create a fair and transparent market." While the system is positioned as being simpler on paper than second price models, some view the shift as potentially being cumbersome to programmatic advertisers because it requires more complicated techniques, such as "bid shading," to finesse, Digiday reported.
U.S. digital ad spending set to increase 19.1% to reach $129.34 billion in 2019, with Google’s share dropping to 37.2% this year from 38.2% last year, according to eMarketer. The company is facing stiffer competition, especially with its core search business as Amazon commands more dollars from categories like packaged goods.
Transparency and brand safety remain top concerns for marketers, even as they're investing more in digital ads. Many have created internal programs to meet these challenges, but some view brand safety solutions as limiting when it comes to targeting large audiences.