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Google blocked over 99 million Covid-19 related ads in 2020

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on March 20, 2021

TRA’s Chandramouli insists Google’s focussed advertising can push a ‘promoted’ product more to the vacillating consumer   -  File photo

Covid-related ads removed were those of miracle cures, N95 masks, and fake vaccine doses

Google blocked over 99 million Covid-19 related ads from serving in 2020, according to its annual Ads Safety Report released earlier this week.

“As claims and conspiracies about the coronavirus’ origin and spread were circulated online, we launched a new policy to prohibit both ads and monetized content about Covid-19 or other global health emergencies that contradict scientific consensus,” the tech giant said in a blog post.

“In total, we blocked over 99 million Covid-related ads from serving throughout the year, including those for miracle cures, N95 masks due to supply shortages, and most recently, fake vaccine doses,” it said.

Overall, the tech major blocked or removed nearly 3.1 billion ads for violating its policies and restricted an additional 6.4 billion ads in 2020. It also added or updated more than 40 policies for advertisers and publishers “ to deliver a safe experience for users, creators, publishers and advertisers.”

Ad restrictions and other policies

This year, in a first, Google also shared details on ad restrictions which is a core part of its overall strategy.

“Over the past several years, we’ve seen an increase in country-specific ad regulations, and restricting ads allows us to help advertisers follow these requirements regionally with minimal impact on their broader campaigns,” it said.

It further invested in its automated detection technology to “effectively scan the web for publisher policy compliance at scale.”

Due to this investment in addition to several new policies, Google removed ads from 1.3 billion publisher pages in 2020, up from 21 million in 2019.

“We also stopped ads from serving on over 1.6 million publisher sites with pervasive or egregious violations,” it added.

The number of ad accounts that were disabled for policy violations increased by 70 per cent from 1 million to over 1.7 million in 2020.

“We also blocked or removed over 867 million ads for attempting to evade our detection systems, including cloaking, and an additional 101 million ads for violating our misrepresentation policies. That’s a total of over 968 million ads,” it said.

In terms of content such as hate speech and calls to violence online, it took action on nearly 168 million pages under its dangerous and derogatory policy, it said.

Published on March 20, 2021

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