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It’s no secret that there are lots of bad people trying to operate scams online. Bing’s latest report on bad ads makes that crystal clear, as the search engine has removed over 130 million ads and banned 175,000 advertisers in just the last year.

Somewhat surprisingly, that number is actually 120 million fewer ads than in 2015. In comparison, both those ads combined are still dwarfed by Google’s 1.7 billion blocked ads in 2016.

As the Bing Ads’ Ad Quality in Review 2016 report explains, the ads were rejected for “direct policy compliance issues or intention to mislead users.” It continues:

“We introduced new policy around software download advertising that reduced unwanted and potentially malicious ads for many top free software programs. We ramped up systems that detect browser hijacking ads, phishing attempts, scareware ads, ads targeting the most common sites on the internet, and ads with multimedia content. We also enforced policies directed towards gender determination ads to comply with country specific regulations.”

The report specifically highlights six different types of bad ads it removed in 2016:

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  • Phishing: More than 5,000 advertisers and 7,000 sites were blocked for phishing.
  • Counterfeit: More than 1 million ads were blocked for selling counterfeit goods.
  • Tech Support Scams: More than 17 million ads were blocked for third-party tech support scams.
  • Download: More than 4 million ads were rejected for violating download-related guidelines.
  • Scareware: More than 300 advertisers were blocked for ads that highjack the browser or scare users that their PC is infected.
  • Misleading Ads: 7 million ads were blocked for misleading content. This is a huge drop compared to 2015, when Bing rejected 30 million ads.

Bing emphasized the scale of their efforts with a final comparison, saying “if one person took a minute to find and take down a bad ad or actor, it would take them nearly 500 years to remove the same number of bad ads or actors found by our automated methods in 2016.”

ad quality lookback

Every year Bing likes to highlight its efforts to keep the web safe with its “Bad Ads Report” and this year shows that the endless war against online scammers and hackers has remained largely consistent recently.

Despite constant efforts to derail the malicious actors on their platform, tech support scams and purposely misleading ads remain the biggest problems on Bing Ads. The company blocked over 15 million ads for running tech support scams alone.

Overall, Bing says it has rejected over 250 million ads in the past year, as well as blocking 50,000 sites, and banning 150,000 ads for breaking their guidelines.

Considering Bing’s trademark usage policies are relatively loose compared to competitors like Google, it comes as a surprise that the company says it dismissed more than 50 million ads in 2015 for trademark infringements.

The rest of the report is less surprising. Phishing attacks remain a relatively minor issue, and pharma and counterfeit goods are still being delisted by the hundreds of thousands.

Find out more from Bing’s ad report here.

Source: Robert Scoble / Flickr

Source: Robert Scoble / Flickr

Google has released its annual “bad ads” report, though they’ve changed the name a bit. Every year Google uses its bad ads report to highlight the efforts they are taking to rid AdWords of scammers, malware, and fraudulent ads. This year, they covered pretty much the same areas but chose to focus on the positive, calling its annual report the “Better Ads Report.”

This year’s report says the search giant disabled over 780 million ads last year for policy violations, up from 524 million ads disabled in 2014, and 350 million ads disabled in 2013.

Google describes “bad ads” as advertisements carrying malware, blocking the visibility of content, promoting fake or illegal goods, or leading to phishing scams. The company used a team of over 1,000 people around to world to constantly fight back against these ads. The majority of the time they are able to block the ads before they are ever seen by regular users.

Google also went in to detail, showing the most common bad ads they encountered in 2015:

  • Counterfeiters: Over 10,000 sites and 18000 accounts were suspended for attempting to sell counterfeit goods (imitation designer watchers for example).
  • Pharmaceuticals: Over 12.5 million ads were blocked for violating Google’s healthcare and medicines policy, such as advertising pharmaceuticals that have not been approved for use or ads that made misleading claims about the effectiveness of prescription drugs.
  • Weight loss scams: Over 30,000 sites were suspended for making weight loss promises that were dishonest and typically impossible to achieve.
  • Phishing: Over 7,000 sites were blocked for attempting to steal user information, aka phishing.
  • Unwanted software: More than 10,000 sites were disabled for forcing unwanted software and unapproved downloads via Google ads.
  • Trick-to-click: Over 17 million ads were rejected for attempting to mislead users to click an ad that would redirect them to unrelated pages.
  • Bad apps:  Google also blocked over 25,000 mobile aps from displaying Google ads due to breaking policies. Approximately 1.4 million apps were rejected from ever being able to display Google ads in the future.

Looking forward, Google says it is going to start cracking down on ads that may lead to accidental clicks. It also says it has developed technology capable of determining when mobile ad clicks are accidental, and will be able to prevent users from being taken to ad sites they didn’t intent to visit.

Google also plans to bolster efforts to cut down on weight loss ads in 2016 by adding additional restrictions on what advertisers can say is effective for weight loss.

View the full report here.