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New Delhi: Google on Wednesday said it has blocked or removed 3.1 billion bad advertisements, including 99 million covid-19 related ads, globally in 2020. The company also restricted an additional 6.4 billion ads. This is the first year that Google is sharing information on ad restrictions.

Restricting ads allows the company to tailor its approach based on geography, local laws and certification programs, so that approved ads only show where appropriate, regulated and legal.

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The number of ad accounts Google disabled for policy violations in 2020 increased by 70% to over 1.7 million, the company revealed in its annual Ad Safety Report for 2020.

It also blocked or removed over 867 million ads for attempting to evade its detection systems, including cloaking, and an additional 101 million ads for violating the misrepresentation policies. Last year, Google also added or updated more than 40 policies for advertisers and publishers.

Google said malicious and misleading ads related to the pandemic was a major concern throughout the year, including those for miracle cures, N95 masks due to supply shortages, and most recently, fake vaccine doses. Preventing such behaviour, Google released covid policy ads. It also launched a new policy to prohibit both ads and monetized content about covid-19 or other global health emergencies that contradict scientific consensus.

Owing to its investment in automated detection technology to effectively scan the web for publisher policy compliance at scale, Google managed to stop ads from serving on over 1.6 million publisher sites with pervasive or egregious violations. In April 2020, Google also introduced an advertiser identity verification program and is currently verifying advertisers in more than 20 countries. It has started to share the details ‘About this ad’ feature to inform people about the creators of the ads so that they can make more informed decisions.

“In 2020, our policies and enforcement were put to the test as we collectively navigated a global pandemic, multiple elections around the world and the continued fight against bad actors looking for new ways to take advantage of people online. Thousands of Googlers worked around the clock to deliver a safe experience for users, creators, publishers and advertisers. We know that when we make decisions through the lens of user safety, it will benefit the broader ecosystem. Preserving trust for advertisers and publishers helps their businesses succeed in the long term," said Scott Spencer, vice-president, ads privacy & safety, Google in a blog post.

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