Google wiped out 524m ‘bad ads’ and 214,000 advertisers in 2014

4 Feb 2015

As its main source of revenue, Google doesn’t take threats to its advertising platform AdWords lightly as it reveals it wiped out more than half a billion bad ads distributed by 214,000 advertisers last year.

Discussing AdWords’ year in review, the internet search giant’s director for ads engineering, Vikaram Gupta, wrote in a blog post that while this may seem like a substantial number, it remains only a ‘tiny fraction’ of the company’s total number of ads.

Comparing the findings with previous years, Gupta said 7,000 advertisers were banned for promoting counterfeit goods, down from 14,000 in 2013 and 82,000 in 2012.

So who remains the biggest culprit for bogus advertisers? Why, dieting and weight-loss adverts, of course.

Quoting a report released by – a joint initiative between Google, Yahoo!, AOL and others – the group deleted as many as 2.5m ads relating to dieting in an 18-month period.

More than 43m click-bait advertisers

By far however, many ads were click-bait advertising that lured users to click on them, only to send malware to the computer, which totalled more than 43m in 2014.

Meanwhile, 4.3m ads went against Google’s terms and conditions by featuring or linking to content that went against copyright law.

Using its diagnostic tools, Google had been able to find that many of these fraudulent advertisers went to serious lengths to hide their work from Google after finding 33 different coding languages were employed to make the sinister ads.

More than 1.25m were rejected from the outset of joining the AdWords programme for showing examples that could harm people’s computers.

Gupta said of Google’s efforts to stem the tide of bad ads, “This is a constantly evolving fight. Bad actors continually create more sophisticated systems and scams, so we too are continually evolving our practices, technology, and methodology in fighting these bad ads.”

Google AdWords image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic