Google suspended 12.7M accounts and blocked 5.5Bn ads in 2023


Google’s 2023 Ads Safety Report revealed that it blocked or removed 12.7 million advertiser accounts last year – nearly double the previous 12 months.

Additionally, the search engine blocked or removed 5.5 billion ads for violating its policies – slightly up from the prior year.

Why we care. Cracking down on fraudulent accounts is critical for brand safety and also helps to ensure a safer space for consumers so that they can confidently make online transactions. However, there’s also a potential risk associated with AI, as it may mistakenly suspend genuine advertisers and ads.

The report findings. In the 2023 Google Ads Safety Report, Google found:

  • Google blocked or removed 206.5 million advertisements for violating our misrepresentation policy, which includes many scam tactics.
  • Google blocked or removed 273.4 million advertisements for violating our financial services policy.
  • Google blocked or removed over 1 billion advertisements for violating its policy against abusing the ad network, which includes promoting malware.
  • Google blocked or restricted ads from serving on more than 2.1 billion publisher pages.
  • Google took broader site-level enforcement action on more than 395,000 publisher sites, up markedly from 2022.

Updates. Google claimed that scams and fraud across all platforms were on the rise in 2023. To counter these threats, it deployed 31 updates to its Ads and Publisher policies, such as:

  • Updating its suitability controls to make it simpler and quicker for advertisers to exclude topics that they wish to avoid across YouTube and Display inventory.
  • Updating its misrepresentation policy to better enable Google to rapidly suspend the accounts of bad actors.
  • Launching its Limited Ads Serving policy, which is designed to protect users by limiting the reach of advertisers with whom Google is less familiar.
  • Launching the Ads Transparency Center – where users can easily search and find ads from verified advertisers across various platforms such as Search, YouTube, and Display.

AI. In the report, Google highlighted how AI is playing a crucial role in its efforts to combat bad actors. By using AI, Google claims it can identify and suspend fraudulent accounts before they even get onto its platforms, or remove them as soon as they’re detected.

Moving forward. Google did not share exact details on what future updates we can expect we move further into 2024, however, the search engine confirmed it would continue to investment in policy, detection and enforcement.

Appeals. If you disagree with Google’s decisions and do not believe your ad violated its policies, you can appeal any enforcement action. Google will review your appeal, and if it determines that it made an incorrect decision, it will use these instances to enhance its systems.

What Google is saying. Duncan Lennox, VP & GM of Ads Privacy and Safety, said in a statement:

  • “Our goal is to catch bad ads and suspend fraudulent accounts before they make it onto our platforms or remove them immediately once detected. AI is improving our enforcement on all fronts.”
  • “To put the impact of AI on this work into perspective: last year more than 90% of our publisher page level enforcement started with the use of machine learning models, including our latest LLMs.”

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Deep dive. Read Google’s 2023 Ads Safety Report in full for more information.


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