Like fighting spam and click fraud, finding and nixing bad ads on AdWords is a continually escalating battle. One telling stat the company revealed in a blog post today: 134 million. That’s how many ads Google axed in 2011, a 136% rise from the year before. Back in 2008, the company only disapproved 25 million ads.
The rise appears to be due to a combination of factors — first, there are just more bad ads out there.
“My interpretation is that the better we get, the faster we get at shutting them down, the more persistent they get,” David Baker, Google’s director of engineering for advertising told me.
Secondly, Google appears to be getting better at detecting them over time.
“Despite the rising numbers that you see, the bottom line is that things are working,” Baker said. “Things are improving over time.”
Google has been criticized for everything from gambling ads, to pharmaceutical ads, to ads related to human trafficking, with some saying the company is incentivized — by advertising revenue — to overlook such ads. But the company argues that many bad actors don’t pay anyway, because they use fraudulent credit cards, and, execs say, Google benefits more from a clean, trustworthy ad environment.
On the other end, advertisers complain about it taking too long to approve their ads, and a lack of transparency about problems.
“What I’m hoping is that by being a little more transparent, advertisers will understand what we’re doing and the challenges we have,” said Baker. “A good advertiser doesn’t want their ads to be seen next to bad ads.”
The good news is that Google has reduced the percentage of its ads that are bad, the company says. Though he won’t reveal exact numbers or percentages, Baker says Google reduced the percentage of bad ads showing by 50% between 2010 and 2011 — according to human benchmarking that the team does every two weeks.