Google announced that it removed more than two billion bad ads based on existing and new policies, including those addressing phishing, ticket resellers, bail bonds, cryptocurrency, local services, and third party tech support ads. The company will release new ads policies in April for advertisers in an effort to protect legitimate users, publishers, and advertisers via a policy manager in Google Ads to ensure honest, compliant campaigns.
According to the blog post, the company took down the fraudulent ads and accounts after finding online advertisements that deceived or scammed users, “taking advantage of vulnerable communities” such as those seeking addiction treatment services. Using machine learning with 330 detection classifiers to detect bad ads at the page level, detection has increased three times compared to the number of terminated accounts and ads in 2017. Overall, Google has removed an equivalent average of six million ads and identified bad advertisers per day.
In August 2018, the company released a blog post restricting ads for third-party tech support services, citing that predatory behavior from online ad abusers have misled the platform’s users. The restriction was based on consultations and collaboration with law enforcement on improving fraudulent activity monitoring and blocking, while ensuring support for legitimate advertisers and consumers.
In an effort to address challenges for legitimate online advertisers and providers, Google will release a policy manager that centralizes and guides legitimate advertisers on what ads will be accepted on the platform. The policy manager will also feature real-time feedback of violations and an appeal feature should an advertiser disagree with a ban or removal. The company also promised to continue working with agencies and companies to challenge misinformation and remove low-quality pages and sites, citing the upcoming 2019 elections in India and the EU for launching transparency verification tools.
Cybercriminals will continue finding techniques to profit from legitimate businesses and individuals at the expense of unwitting users. And no enterprise is exempt: Criminals tried spoofing Trend Micro and other companies in a tech support scam to phish for information from users searching for tech support information. As platforms redirect their policies and fine-tune verification processes, businesses and organizations should be aware of criminals’ techniques to keep their consumers and assets safe from unauthorized access:
- Check for the listed tech support hotlines of companies on their official websites. Different competing companies will not share the same tech support hotline or toll-free support numbers on their social media pages or websites.
- Download software or updates from legitimate vendor websites or app stores. Take extra care when typing website names on the address bar.
- If you receive unsolicited emails or calls from someone claiming to be from an official vendor, do not give out any personal information or allow them to download/upload anything to your computer.