Wednesday, September 12, 2012

[G] Taking Extra Precautions to Keep Ads Safe

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Inside AdWords: Taking Extra Precautions to Keep Ads Safe

We’ve recently been writing about our efforts to stop unwanted ads.  The overwhelming majority of our advertisers never serve an ad that violates our policies and terms.  But occasionally we see violations, and on very rare occasions, our systems wrongly detect an ad as being in violation of policy.  I wanted to explain why this happens and what you can do if it happens to you.

Fighting bad ads

Ads help fund businesses across the web, and enable people everywhere to enjoy their favorite services and content, often for free.  Yet, bad online advertising practices — like spammy emails, deceptive or misleading ads, and worse — quickly ruin users’ experiences online and discourage people from using the web.  As a result, we all have a vested interest in fighting these bad ads with serious firepower.  Last year, of the billions of ads submitted to Google we disabled more than 130 million, and reduced the percentage of bad ads by more than 50% compared with the year before.  These are big numbers, but we’re doing what’s necessary to deliver a safe, trustworthy experience that meets our highest standards.

Catching good actors

Occasionally, efforts to stomp out bad ads can result in our systems catching good ads and advertisers in our net.  This happens because our defense technologies often look for patterns in what the bad guys do.  Similar to the way your credit card company may disapprove a transaction that seems suspicious, if the actions of a good advertiser resemble one of these bad patterns, we’ll likely take action. So, our systems are inevitably over-protective. Last year, of the advertisers against whom we took action, 97% had violated our policies and terms and conditions, and 3% were identified incorrectly. We’re constantly working to improve the accuracy of this effort.

Notifying advertisers

While we believe that being overly cautious is the right approach to keep users and partners safe, we know this can be a pain for some good advertisers who inadvertently get caught in the net.  Here’s what happens when we believe we’ve identified you as a bad actor and how you can help us straighten things out if we’re wrong.
  1. We notify you: If we believe we’ve detected a violation of our policies, we either disapprove your ad, disallow your site from advertising in AdWords, or suspend your AdWords accounts. When we take an action, we will send you an email and send a notification to your account that will provide you customized information about the particular violation(s) we’ve detected, and will include links to AdWords Help Center articles about disapproved ads, suspended sites, or suspended accounts respectively.

  2. You can respond directly: If you think we’ve got it wrong, you can resubmit the ad for review. If you believe your site or account has been penalized inadvertently, or you disagree with our assessment, you can appeal via this form.  The best responses refer to the relevant part of the AdWords Policy Center and provide as much context in your appeal as you can. We respond as fast as we can - it typically takes us five business days to resolve appeals - each one is reviewed manually by a person in our support teams.
With our screening technology running 24/7, there are no days off in the fight against bad online advertising practices.  While we do mistakenly catch good advertisers from time to time, and we know this is inconvenient to good advertisers, please also know that we work to rectify mistakes quickly, and that our overall goal is to help businesses grow by creating a useful, trustworthy advertising system that keeps users safe and gives them confidence in the ads they see.

Posted by Rahul Pangam, Ads Quality Operations and David W. Baker, Ads Engineering

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