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Cross-posted from The Keyword
A free and open web is a vital resource for people and businesses around the world. And ads play a key role in ensuring you have access to accurate, quality information online. But bad ads can ruin the online experience for everyone. They promote illegal products and unrealistic offers. They can trick people into sharing personal information and infect devices with harmful software. Ultimately, bad ads pose a threat to users, Google’s partners, and the sustainability of the open web itself.

We have a strict set of policies that govern the types of ads we do and don’t allow on Google in order to protect people from misleading, inappropriate, or harmful ads. And we have a team of engineers, policy experts, product managers and others who are waging a daily fight against bad actors. Over the years, this commitment has made the web a better place for you—and a worse place for those who seek to abuse advertising systems for their own gain.

In 2016, we took down 1.7 billion ads that violated our advertising policies, more than double the amount of bad ads we took down in 2015. If you spent one second taking down each of those bad ads, it’d take you more than 50 years to finish. But our technology is built to work much faster.

Last year, we did two key things to take down more bad ads. First, we expanded our policies to better protect users from misleading and predatory offers. For example, in July we introduced a policy to ban ads for payday loans, which often result in unaffordable payments and high default rates for users. In the six months since launching this policy, we disabled more than 5 million payday loan ads. Second, we beefed up our technology so we can spot and disable bad ads even faster. For example, “trick to click" ads often appear as system warnings to deceive users into clicking on them, not realizing they are often downloading harmful software or malware. In 2016, our systems detected and disabled a total of 112 million ads for “trick to click,” 6X more than in 2015.

Here are a few more examples of bad ads we took action against in 2016:

Ads for illegal products

Some of the most common bad ads we find online are ads promoting illegal activities or products. Although we've long had a policy against bad ads for pharmaceuticals, last year our systems detected an increase online. We disabled more than 68 million bad ads for healthcare violations, up from 12.5 million in 2015.

Similarly, we saw more attempts to advertise gambling-related promotions without proper authorization from regulators in the countries they operate. We took down more than 17 million bad ads for illegal gambling violations in 2016.

17M ads removed for illegal gambling violations

Misleading ads

We don't want you to feel misled by ads that we deliver, so we require our advertisers to provide upfront information for people to make informed decisions. Some ads try to drive clicks and views by intentionally misleading people with false information like asking, “Are you at risk for this rare, skin-eating disease?” or offering miracle cures like a pill that will help you lose 50 pounds in three days without lifting a finger. In 2016, we took down nearly 80 million bad ads for deceiving, misleading and shocking users.
1,300+ accounts suspended for tabloid cloaking

Bad ads on mobile

If you’ve ever been on your phone and suddenly, without warning, ended up in the app store downloading an app you’ve never heard of, a “self-clicking ad” could be to blame. In 2015, we disabled only a few thousand of these bad ads, but in 2016, our systems detected and disabled more than 23,000 self-clicking ads on our platforms, a huge increase year over year.

Ads trying to game the system

Bad actors know that ads for certain products—like weight-loss supplements or payday loans—aren’t allowed by Google's policies, so they try to trick our systems into letting them through. Last year, we took down almost 7 million bad ads for intentionally attempting to trick our detection systems.

In 2016, we saw the rise of tabloid cloakers, a new type of scammer that tries to game our system by pretending to be news. Cloakers often take advantage of timely topics—a government election, a trending news story or a popular celebrity—and their ads can look like headlines on a news website. But when people click on that story about Ellen DeGeneres and aliens, they go to a site selling weight-loss products, not a news story.

To fight cloakers, we take down the scammers themselves, and prevent them from advertising with us again. In 2016, we suspended more than 1,300 accounts for tabloid cloaking. Unfortunately, this type of bad ad is gaining in popularity because people are clicking on them. And a handful of scammers can pump out a lot of bad ads: During a single sweep for tabloid cloaking in December 2016, we took down 22 cloakers that were responsible for ads seen more than 20 million times by people online in a single week.

Promoting and profiting from bad sites

When we find ads that violate our policies, we block the ad or the advertiser, depending on the violation. But sometimes we also need to suspend the website promoted in the ad (the site people see after they click on it). So, for example, while we disabled more than 5 million payday loan ads last year, we also took action on 8,000 sites promoting payday loans.

Here are some examples of common policy violations we saw among bad sites in 2016:
  • We took action on 47,000 sites for promoting content and products related to weight-loss scams.
  • We took action on more than 15,000 sites for unwanted software and disabled 900,000 ads for containing malware.
  • And we suspended around 6,000 sites and 6,000 accounts for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods, like imitation designer watches.
6,000 sites and 6,000 accounts removed for attempting to sell counterfeit goods

Publishers and website owners use our AdSense platform to make money by running ads on their sites and content, so we have strict policies in place to keep Google's content and search networks safe and clean for our advertisers, users and publishers. When a publisher violates our policies, we may stop showing ads on their site, or even terminate their account.

We've had long-standing policies prohibiting AdSense publishers from running ads on sites that help people deceive others, like a site where you buy fake diplomas or plagiarized term papers. In November, we expanded on these policies, introducing a new AdSense misrepresentative content policy, that helps us to take action against website owners misrepresenting who they are and that deceive people with their content. From November to December 2016, we reviewed 550 sites that were suspected of misrepresenting content to users, including impersonating news organizations. We took action against 340 of them for violating our policies, both misrepresentation and other offenses, and nearly 200 publishers were kicked out of our network permanently.

In addition to all the above, we support industry efforts like the Coalition for Better Ads to protect people from bad experiences across the web. While we took down more bad ads in 2016 than ever before, the battle doesn’t end here. As we invest in better detection, the scammers invest in more elaborate attempts to trick our systems. Continuing to find and fight them is essential to protecting people online and ensuring you get the very best from the open web.

Posted by Scott Spencer
Director of Product Management, Sustainable Ads

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Building better experiences is the subject of the discussion at the annual EMEA DoubleClick Leadership Summit that kicked off yesterday at Google’s European headquarters in Dublin. And key to building a better consumer experience is reaching consumers with more precise and relevant marketing.

Today we’re excited to announce new DoubleClick precision marketing innovations that allow more relevant marketing for consumers, and that allow marketers to reach and measure their audiences across screens, programmatically, in a brand-safe and verifiable way.

Buy app inventory with more control.

Building better experiences means, in part, ensuring that your brand is present where and when you intend it to be. We know brand safety and control are important to advertisers, and we continue to develop tools that both safeguard your brand as well as help you reach the most relevant audiences for your message.

Sensitive category classifiers, now available in DoubleClick Bid Manager, let you specify categories of apps to exclude based on their fit for your brand. And coming soon to both DoubleClick Bid Manager and DoubleClick Campaign Manager, app verification will provide you with greater insight around the apps your ads ran in, so you can understand where and how your brand appeared. (DoubleClick Bid Manager users can learn more about our brand safety capabilities here.)

Understand the impact to your brand across screens.

An important part of building better experiences is understanding when users see your ads, wherever they may be.

Active View measurement is rolling out for apps in DoubleClick Campaign Manager and DoubleClick Bid Manager, so you can understand when consumers see your app ads. Brands like Bank of Montreal have already seen the benefits of using Active View in DoubleClick to measure viewability across the web, and these insights are now available for display and video app inventory.

Lastly, we’re announcing a new JavaScript API in Google Chrome, called Intersection Observer, which provides viewability measurement for your mobile and desktop web placements without the need for Flash. Built directly into the Chrome Browser, Intersection Observer improves viewability coverage for all video and display formats across screens by solving technical challenges associated with mobile viewability measurement. It also provides faster browsing and less battery drain, improving the consumer experience.

These innovations help marketers reach consumers with more precise and relevant marketing, enabling better user experiences across all screens for better results.

Posted by Steve Chang
Product Manager, DoubleClick

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The digital landscape has changed the way people shop for the holidays. With the ability to instantly discover, research and purchase, people around the world are more informed and more efficient than ever before — transforming into supershoppers, seemingly overnight.

Supershoppers are a new breed of buyers, keeping their options open and relying heavily on mobile for inspiration, research and e-commerce. They learn the latest brands and the top gifts of the season, and they know where to find the best deals. Where do they gather their knowledge? From you, if you know how to reach them.

DoubleClick Ad Exchange offers access to the broadest reach of premium, clean and brand-safe inventory across screens. We've created a new guide to help you get the right message to these supershoppers and to provide some tips to help set your campaigns up for success this holiday season.

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Native advertising is fast becoming the chosen method for advertisers looking to reach mobile consumers. Native ads allow advertisers to build better brand experiences, particularly on mobile, by matching the ad to the form and function of the surrounding publisher content. According to eMarketer, native advertising is already a $16B business and is expected to more than double to $33.5B by 2020.1

However, while users find this type of ad format useful, the process of building and scaling native ads is largely still manual, with varying standards and formats across publishers.

Over the past year, Google has been working with publishers like the New York Times and Washington Post to help them adopt native ads. And in July, we announced an expanded offering for both publishers and advertisers to help accelerate adoption of this user-friendly format with programmatic. Advertisers can now easily build and buy native ads that run scalably across all publishers with Doubleclick Bid Manager.

The results are starting to come in...

Since launch, we’ve seen a lot of excitement amongst advertisers who want to get started with the solution, and initial campaigns are seeing success. For example, San Francisco Travel Association and their performance marketing platform, Sojern, used programmatic native in DoubleClick to easily create a campaign that successfully converted interested consumers into San Francisco-bound travellers.


See SF Travel’s components come to life as various native ad formats

The component-based nature of the ads allowed SF Travel to test different headlines and optimize the campaign to the best performers. Sojern was also able to integrate their own travel-based marketing platform with DoubleClick Bid Manager to help deliver a campaign that exceeded SF Travel’s goals.

The two-month campaign drove:
  • A 1662% rise in hotel bookings: 16X their previous campaign
  • A remarkable 92% drop in cost per acquisition

"Thanks to our work with the San Francisco Travel team and Google, programmatic native ads in DoubleClick are now a proven method for driving direct bookings," says Jackie Lamping, VP of Marketing at Sojern. "We’ve since expanded this opportunity and made it available to all of Sojern’s clients."

Read the full case study to learn more about San Francisco Travel’s campaign. If you’re interested in building a programmatic native campaign with DoubleClick, reach out to your DoubleClick sales rep for more information.

Posted by Jason Bigler
Product Management Director, DoubleClick

1 eMarketer, “US Native Advertising Update: Focus on Video,” July 16, 2016

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In the coming quarters, all major browsers, including Chrome, are phasing out the use of Flash technologies in favor of HTML5. HTML5 is not only available on more devices, but also offers improved security, reduced power consumption and faster page load times for users.

We began our transition to HTML5 with display ads across Google and DoubleClick back in 2015. We are now continuing that transition by shifting video ads in DoubleClick Digital Marketing, DoubleClick for Publishers, DoubleClick Ad Exchange and the Google Display Network to HTML5 over the next few quarters as follows:

  • Starting April 3rd, 2017, new Flash video ads will no longer be able to be uploaded into DoubleClick Studio, DoubleClick Campaign Manager, DoubleClick Bid Manager, DoubleClick for Publishers or AdWords.
  • Starting July 3rd, 2017, Flash video ads will no longer be able to run through DoubleClick Campaign Manager, DoubleClick Bid Manager, DoubleClick Ad Exchange, DoubleClick for Publishers or AdWords. Additionally, our Active View and Verification tools for video will no longer use Flash.

Transition timeline for HTML5 Video


It’s important to begin updating your ads and websites to HTML5 technologies in preparation for these dates. We fully support HTML5 Video across DoubleClick and AdWords and provide the tools to ensure advertisers and publishers can easily migrate all video ads to HTML5.

For guidance and best practices to help your team with this transition, see this Chrome one-sheeter, visit the DoubleClick help center or contact your DoubleClick sales representative.

Posted by Peentoo Patel and Sunil Gupta