The company revealed the figure in a blogpost highlighting its efforts to keep its network as free as possible from malware, scams and other criminal activity.
“Overall, we disabled more than 524 million bad ads and banned more than 214,000 advertisers in 2014,” wrote Google’s director of ads engineering Vikaram Gupta in a blog post.
“While this represents a tiny fraction of the total ads on our platform – the vast majority of advertisers follow our policies and act responsibly – we continue to remain vigilant to protect users against bad advertising practices.”
Gupta provided some more specific figures from 2014: 7,000 advertisers banned for promoting counterfeit goods; 250,000 sites blocked from its network for hiding malware; 33,000 merchants banned from its Google Shopping service for “bad practices”; and more than 5,000 advertisers banned for phishing attempts.
“This is a constantly evolving fight. Bad actors continually create more sophisticated systems and scams, so we too are continually evolving our practices, technology, and methodology in fighting these bad ads,” claimed Gupta.
He cited the example of a series of advertisements that “looked like ordinary rental property ads that met our policies”, but which further analysis revealed were the front for a scam: the properties advertised didn’t even exist.
Tackling “bad actors” on its advertising network is a long-term challenge for Google. For example, it announced a crackdown on ads for counterfeit goods in March 2011, but three years later, fake products could still be found advertising on its network.
Google has also faced regulatory scrutiny of its network, agreeing in 2011 to pay a fine of $500m to settle an investigation by the US Federal Trade Commission into its display of advertisements from Canadian pharmacies illegally selling prescription and non-prescription drugs to Americans.
Malware is another ongoing battle for Google’s online advertising business. Its DoubleClick subsidiary was targeted in September 2014 by a widespread “malvertising” attack aiming to deliver malware through ads on websites, while in January 2015, Google faced a malvertising atttack focused on its AdSense network.
All of this explains the company’s desire to talk publicly about its efforts to keep its web ads clean. “The security of our users is the foundation of our ecosystem, and we’ll continue to work tirelessly to keep people safe online,” wrote Gupta.
This article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 4th February 2015 11.05 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010