Google blocked over 3.1 billion ads in 2020

The company's latest Ad Safety Report shows a pandemic and multiple elections led to a "perfect storm" of misinformation and scams.

For ten years, Google has been releasing its Ads Safety Report to highlight its work to prevent malicious use of its ads platforms.

To illustrate just how big of a problem this has become, in 2011, Google blocked 130 million bad ads, while 3.1 billion were blocked or removed in 2020. Over 99 million of those were trying to capitalize on the pandemic in some way.

Google’s policies and enforcement were challenged by a “perfect storm” of sensitive events last year – a global pandemic, multiple elections around the world and an ever-evolving roster of frauds and scams.

In response to this, over 40 policies for advertisers and publishers were enacted or updated. As the pandemic grew, the company enacted its sensitive events policy to prevent ads promoting false cures and price-gouging on high-demand goods such as hand sanitizer, masks and paper goods. As claims and conspiracies about the origin of the virus were circulated online, a new policy was introduced to prohibit both ads and monetized content about COVID-19 or other global health emergencies that contradict scientific consensus.

The number of ad accounts disabled for policy violations increased by 70%, from 1 million to over 1.7 million. Over 867 million ads were blocked or removed for attempting to evade Google’s detection systems, including cloaking. An additional 101 million ads were removed for violating misrepresentation policies.

Google also has policies in place to demonetize hate and violence. In 2017, the company began reviewing sites at the page level. Last year when there was an increase in hate speech and calls to violence online, harmful web content was prevented from monetizing through action taken on nearly 168 million pages under Google’s dangerous and derogatory policy.