Google purged itself of 1.7 billion bad ads last year—more than double the number it axed in 2015—a fact which belies a problem set to swell unless more advertisers refuse to turn a blind eye to inflated numbers caused by ad fraud.
To stress the point, Google pointed out that over 1,300 accounts were suspended last year for attempting to game its system by pretending to be news, a trick known as “tabloid cloaking”. Such is the problem that during a single sweep for tabloid cloaking in December 2016, it took down 22 culprits responsible for ads seen over 20 million times by people online in a single week.
Bad ads are disguising themselves as topical news stories for click bait, threatening the integrity of the media industry at a time when fake news is a legitimate concern. Between November and December last year, Google reviewed 550 sites it suspected of “misrepresenting content to users”, including impersonating news organizations, it took action against 340 of them for violating its revamped AdSense misrepresentative content policy. Of that number, nearly 200 publishers were booted out of its network permanently.
“Every player in the ad tech industry—publishers, agencies, marketers, and ad tech providers—must be held accountable and take appropriate steps to eradicate fraud and improve ad quality,” said Marc Rouanet, co-founder and president at Sublime Skinz.