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AdWords is an online platform that enables advertisers to display ads in the search results.

The way it works is rather straightforward. You bid on a set of keywords that are relevant to your market (e.g. SEO services Austin) and create brief advertising copy. Your ads then show up in the search results when your keywords are searched for. The cost for each click depends on the competitiveness of the keyword.

Advertising on AdWords can be a profitable marketing channel as it lets you bring in highly targeted traffic. But Google also has a strict policy in place and will not hesitate to shut down your campaigns if you engage in prohibited practices.

The search giant recently stated the following in a blog post:

“Last year alone we disabled more than 780 million ads for violating our policies—a number that’s increased over the years thanks to new protections we’ve put in place.”

To put that into perspective, Google disabled over 520 million ads in 2014 and over 350 million ads in 2013. Those increases are largely attributed to new algorithms to detect spam and a global team of over a 1,000 employees that work around the clock to identify and remove bad ads.

Adwords Policy Violations

The reason Google goes to such lengths to remove these types of ads is obvious: User experience.

A well designed ad is one that connects a user with a product or service that is relevant to their search. For example, if a user sees an ad for a VoIP service, he would expect to be taken to a landing page where he can find out more including pricing details. But if that same ad instead directs the user to a scam or attempts to install malicious software, it creates major ramifications.

Google naturally wants to avoid such problems as it generates a negative online experience. As one of the largest sources of revenue for the search company, it makes sense for them to continue investing heavily in their advertising platform to prevent bad ads from going live.

Google provides some of the most common policy violations that have resulted in millions of removed ads:

  • Counterfeiters: Selling counterfeit goods such as imitation designer handbags or glasses is strictly prohibited. Over 10,000 sites and 18,000 accounts were suspended alone for violating this policy.
  • Pharmaceuticals: Attempting to sell drugs not approved for use or with misleading claims is another policy violation. Google reported that it blocked more than 12.5 million ads that violated this policy.
  • Weight loss scams: Weight loss is a multibillion dollar industry but it is also plagued with a number of scams, one of which is promising unrealistic results (e.g. Lose 50 pounds in a week without any exercise!). Over 30,000 sites were suspended for making such claims.
  • Phishing scams: Phishing scams are attempts to trick users into disclosing personal information by replicating a well-known site so it appears legitimate. Around 7,000 sites were blocked for phishing scams.
  • Unwanted software: Software can slow down your computer down or even result in malware. More than 10,000 sites offering unwanted software were disabled.
  • Trick to click: Over 17 million misleading ads or those designed to trick users into clicking (e.g. Your computer could have a were rejected.
  • Bad apps: More than 25,000 mobile apps were prevented from showing further ads and around 1.4 million were rejected from ever displaying Google ads. Many were due to practices such as placing ads too close to buttons, causing someone to accidentally click the ads.

As with its search ranking algorithm, Google will continue to implement updates to its advertising platform to more effectively block ads that violate these policies.

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