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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Google blocked 5.5 billion ads for policy violation in 2023 – report

Google’s goal is to “catch bad ads” and suspend fraudulent accounts before they make it onto the platforms. 

Google removed 12.7 million ad accounts and blocked 5.5 billion advertisements last year.

This is according to the company’s 2023 Ad Safety Report, released this week.

Google also acted against 206.5 million ads for breaching its misrepresentation policy, including various scam tactics.

According to the Ads Safety Report, Google also addressed 273.4 million ads for contravening its financial services policy, while over 1 billion ads were blocked or removed for flouting the policy against abusing the ad network, which includes the promotion of malware.

Gen AI impact

Duncan Lennox, VP & GM of Ads Privacy and Safety at Google said the key trend in 2023 was the impact of generative artificial intelligence (Gen AI).

“This new technology introduced significant and exciting changes to the digital advertising industry, from performance optimisation to image editing. Of course, generative AI also presents new challenges. We take these challenges seriously and will outline the work we are doing to address them head-on.

“Just as importantly, generative AI presents a unique opportunity to improve our enforcement efforts significantly. Our teams are embracing this transformative technology, specifically large language models (LLMs), so that we can better keep people safe online,” Lennox said.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Google using AI to tackle food insecurity, weather and floods

Bad ads

Lennox said Google’s goal is to “catch bad ads” and suspend fraudulent accounts before they make it onto the platforms or remove them immediately once detected.

“AI is improving our enforcement on all these fronts. In 2023, we blocked or removed over 5.5 billion ads, slightly up from the prior year, and 12.7 million advertiser accounts, nearly double from the previous year.

“Similarly, we work to protect advertisers and people by removing our ads from publisher pages and sites that violate our policies, such as sexually explicit content or dangerous products. In 2023, we blocked or restricted ads from serving on more than 2.1 billion publisher pages, up slightly from 2022. We are also getting better at tackling pervasive or egregious violations. We took broader site-level enforcement action on more than 395,000 publisher sites, up markedly from 2022”,” Lennox said.


Lennox added that political ads play a crucial role in democratic elections, allowing candidates and parties to raise awareness, disseminate information, and engage potential voters.

“In a year with several major elections around the world, we want to make sure voters continue to trust the election ads they may see on our platforms. That’s why we have long-standing identity verification and transparency requirements for election advertisers, as well as restrictions on how these advertisers can target their election ads.

“All election ads must also include a “paid for by” disclosure and are compiled in our publicly available transparency report. In 2023, we verified more than 5,000 new election advertisers and removed more than 7.3 million election ads that came from advertisers who did not complete verification,” Lennox said.

Lennox said while Google doesn’t  know what the rest of 2024 has in store for the company, they are confident that investments in policy, detection and enforcement will prepare them for any challenges ahead.

ALSO READ: Meta announces new ways to protect teens from sextortion and intimate image abuse

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