Google announced in a March 2012 video that it had closed the accounts of approximately 800,000 advertisers in 2011. It also reported that more than 130 million advertisements were removed from its AdWords system. Google took these measures as part of its ongoing campaign to eliminate ads for spyware, scams and illegal products.
The top search engine recently adopted a stricter approach to illegal advertisements. Rather than simply deleting individual ads, Google bans advertisers when they violate the advertising rules. This policy ensures that violators cannot easily resubmit such ads with different words or other minor changes.Google uses a variety of methods to identify problematic ads. It runs computer software that automatically detects suspicious promotions. An employee inspects the advertisements before taking action. It also manually screens new ads for policy violations. The company allows Internet users to report questionable advertisements as well.
Google suspends some illegal ads before they appear in its sponsored search results. Others survive the initial approval process, but they are removed after further scrutiny. Some advertisers complain of inexplicable account suspensions. When so many accounts are deleted in a single year, it stands to reason that a few mistakes may occur.
Banning Advertisers An Ongoing Process
This is not the first time Google has deleted large numbers of advertiser accounts. It canceled about 30,000 accounts in December 2010, according to The Register. Although this caused Google to lose one out of every 20 advertisers, it did not appear to harm the company’s profitability. The deletion rate more than doubled in 2011.
Google appears to have a variety of reasons for cracking down on these advertisers. If people begin to associate Google’s ads with scams and spyware, they will be less likely to look at the advertisements or click on them. Such ads also harm Google’s image and the reputations of other websites that display the ads.
Google may be concerned about government fines as well. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2011 that the top search engine was fined for showing illegal ads from Internet pharmacies in Canada. These companies broke the law by selling prescription medications to Americans. The U.S. government accused Google of knowingly accepting the ads.
With an average of 91 advertisers losing their accounts every hour, AdWords users need to carefully consider the types of advertisements that they submit to Google. Third-party software and affiliate programs should be thoroughly screened for viruses, deceptive language and illegal activities.
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