Google’s 2021 Ads Safety Report

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Google tripled the total of account-level suspensions for advertisers over the past year

Google has released its annual “Ads Safety Report” and revealed that through its activities, they have blocked or taken down more than 3.4 billion ads due to Google Ads policy violations. Moreover, they limited more than 5.7 billion ads, suspended more than 5.6 million advertiser accounts, and took down ads from more than 1.7 billion pages last year. Google opened the report announcement with the following statement, “User safety is at the top of our list when we make decisions about ads and monetized content on our platforms. In fact, thousands of Googlers work around the clock to prevent malicious use of our advertising services and help make them safer for people, businesses, and publishers. We do this important work because an ad-supported internet means everyone can access essential information”.

Microsoft also shared that it had taken down more than 3 billion ads last year. This means that combined, Google and Microsoft removed close to 6.5 billion ads in 2021.

This is part of a broader strategy for Google. As Relevant Audience also recently reported, Google has also introduced a “multi-strike system” for repeat policy violations across its advertising networks and has also supplemented or updated over 30 policies that relate to both advertisers and publishers.

5.7 billion ads were restricted in 2021 by Google. Some ads could not be shown to each searcher in every location; therefore, these ads were placed into the category of either being legally or culturally sensitive. Below is the breakdown of the 2021 numbers:

  • Trademarks: 1.4 billion
  • Other restricted businesses: 511.4 million
  • Financial services: 223 million
  • Healthcare and medicines: 219.3 million
  • Alcohol: 128.5 million
  • Adult content: 126.1 million
  • Gambling and games: 108.1 million
  • Legal requirements: 105.7 million
  • Copyrights: 68.6 million

Moreover, 5.6 million advertiser accounts were suspended by Google in 2021. The company reported that bad actors worked “with more sophistication and at a greater scale, using a variety of tactics to evade our detection.”

One example of the level of sophistication initiated: bad actors set up thousands of accounts concurrently and implemented tactics such as cloaking and text manipulation so that Google’s reviewers and systems saw different ad content from what a user would see.

Publisher enforcement. As mentioned above, Google also took down or limited ads from serving content across 1.7 billion publisher pages and took measures for more comprehensive site-level enforcement activities across approximately 63,000 publisher sites last year.

Google Ads blocking: recent history

The below data demonstrates that, over the past two years, Google has stepped up its ad-blocking activities: 

  • 2021: 3.4 billion ads removed/blocked
  • 2020: 3.1 billion ads removed/blocked
  • 2021: 5.7 billion ads restricted
  • 2020: 6.4 billion ads restricted
  • 2021: 5.6 million advertiser accounts suspended
  • 2020: 1.7 million advertiser accounts suspended
  • 2021: 1.7 billion ads removed from pages
  • 2020: 1.3 billion ads removed from pages

Looking ahead to 2022 – Google’s view

When sharing their perspective on what to expect this year, Google shared that “a trustworthy advertising experience is critical to getting helpful and useful information to people around the world. And this year, we’ll continue to address areas of abuse across our platforms and network to protect users and help credible advertisers and publishers. Providing more transparency and control over the ads people see is a big part of that goal. Our new “About this ad” feature is rolling out globally to help people understand why an ad was shown and which advertiser ran it. They can also report an ad if they believe it violates one of our policies or blocks an ad they aren’t interested in”.

Conclusion

It is clear that all the metrics have increased apart from the number of ads restricted; for example, the number of accounts that were suspended significantly increased last year.

Advertisers who employ unethical or similar tactics are harmful for the whole ad network, from searchers, other advertisers, and publishers. The reality is that this report presents a reminder to legitimate advertisers about the high number of risks and threats there in the minefield of attempting to reach the brand’s target audience. This provides more clarity as to why Google is advocating strongly for advertiser verification and stepping up preventative measures such as the three-strikes policy.

If you have any questions about Google Ads and how to advertise without getting penalized, please feel free to contact our expert team at info@relevantaudience.com for more information.

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