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Making Ads Safer Google Explains its Scam Ads Detection and Removal Process

Google’s Director of Engineering, Advertising, David W. Baker, in a blog post today highlighted how Google make its ads safer by detecting and removing scam ads. “Our ads policies are designed with safety and trust in mind–we don’t allow ads for malicious downloads, counterfeit goods, or ads with unclear billing practices, to name a few examples,” posted W. Baker.

In order to help prevent these kinds of ads from showing, “we use a combination of automated systems and human input to review the billions of ads submitted to Google each year. I’m one of many engineers whose job is to help make sure that Google doesn’t show bad ads to users,” he adds.

“We’ve designed our approach based on a three-pronged strategy, each focused on a different dimension of the problem: ads, sites, and advertiser accounts. These systems are complementary, sharing signals among each other so that we can comprehensively attack bad ads. For example, in the case of a site that is selling counterfeit goods, this three-pronged approach aims to look for patterns that would flag such a site and help prevent ads from showing,” explained W. Baker.

How Google detects and removes scam ads

Ad Review notices patterns in the ads and keywords selected by the advertiser.

“When an advertiser submits an ad, our system immediately performs a preliminary examination. If there’s nothing in the ad that flags a need for further review, we tell the advertiser the ad is “Eligible” and show the ad on google.com to users with SafeSearch turned off. If the ad is flagged it’s not shown and is referred as “Under Review”.

From there, the ad enters automated pipeline, if our automated system determines an outcome with a high degree of confidence, we’ll either approve the ad to run on Google and all of our partners (“Approved”), approve the ad to show for appropriate users in specific locations (“Approved – Limited”) or reject the ad (“Disapproved”). If automated system isn’t able to determine the outcome, we send the ad to a real person to make a final decision,” W. Baker explained.

Site Review analyzes the entire site to determine if it is selling counterfeit goods. It aggregates sites across all ads from all advertisers and regularly crawls them, building a repository of information that’s constantly improving as new scams and new sites are examined.

“Site review will determine whether or not an entire site should be disabled, which would prevent any ads leading to that site showing from any account. When the automated system isn’t able to determine the outcome with a high degree of confidence, we send it to a real person to make a decision. When a site is disabled, we tell the advertiser that it’s in violation of “Site Policy,” said Baker.

google site review system

Account Review aims to determine if a new advertiser is truly new, or is simply a repeat offender trying to abuse Google’s advertising system.

“The account review system constantly evaluates individual advertiser accounts to determine if the whole account should be inspected and shut down for policy violations. This system “listens” to a variety of signals, such as ads and keywords submitted by the advertiser, budget changes, the advertiser’s address and phone number, the advertiser’s IP address, disabled sites connected to this account, and disapproved ads. The system constantly re-evaluates all accounts, incorporating new data,” Baker said.

google adwords advertisers account review

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