Google Bans Scammy Advertisers From Network

At last, someone has taken a stand against the tooth whitener ad menace. It’s no tiny or obscure ad network: it’s Google. The company has decided to live up to its “don’t be evil” motto and ban advertisers who place ads that lead to sites peddling products like scammy free trials, get-rich-quick schemes, and malware. Previously, they would ban individual ads, but not advertisers. This was akin to playing a massive game of whack-a-mole with thousands of identical “local moms” who had identified the secret to weight loss. Or tooth whitening. Or stretch marks. Or…

Chadwick Matlin at The Big Money explains:

Up until now [Google] has taken action against ads, not advertisers. If an ad violated one of Google’s terms of use, the search giant would take it out of circulation, but that’s it. Google briefed TBM on its new policy: It will now ban the advertiser, not the ad, effectively neutering the advertiser’s ability to shift from one ad and shell site to another. Think of it like the struggle between the police and a graffiti vandal. Up until now Google has only been erasing the tags after they’ve been put up. Going forward, they’re going to take away his spray cans and put a GPS collar on him, making sure he never does it again. It would be a principled stand by any company, but especially by Google because of its position in the market.

The problem with permanent advertiser bans is that it can lead to false-positives, but this is a promising start on Google’s part.

Google Does Non-Evil Thing: Bans White Teeth, Flat Stomachs [The Big Money]

Unethical, Annoying, And Ubiquitous Ads: Internet Miracle Cures For Everything
Easy Weight Loss And Free Cash: A Dubious Product Online Marketing Empire Revealed
Free Trials Can Be Trojan Horses For Sketchy Companies

(Photo: evil robot 6)


Edit Your Comment

  1. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    False positive? A scammy looking ad that’s not scammy?
    Is this kill ’em all and let Google sort ’em out (not that I have a problem with fewer ads on my intertubes)?

  2. hypnotik_jello says:

    I dunno, I can live with false positives. There are worse things in the world than a few ads mistakenly blocked.

    • scoobydoo says:

      @hypnotik_jello: Until you on the receiving end of a block. Google is notorious for not being easy to contact when they screw up.

      • Amish Undercover says:

        @hypnotik_jello: Those who walk the line between legitimate and scam will probably occasionally get classified as scam. I can also live with these folks being “false” positives and with the (presumably) very small percent who will truly be false positives.

        @scoobydoo: Google is notorious for not being easy to contact when they screw up.

        I have not heard this before. Do you advertise or have business with Google?

        • floraposte says:

          @statgrad: I suspect that’s referring to the “this site may harm your computer” search results. My impression has been that they’re overall better in responding than scoobydoo’s statement would suggest, but a lot of people get really confused about what’s going on, and obviously also even a short time of getting Google-blacklisted can be hard on a company.

          Here’s Google’s page about the warning: []

  3. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    Spoiler alert — The secret to stretch marks is GET PREGNANT. You get TONS of them.

    Sorry, it struck me as funny. :D It’s like when people ask, “Do you want to give a dollar to cystic fibrosis?” I’m like, “Um … no, I’ll save my dollar for the people who are FIGHTING cystic fibrosis.”

  4. diasdiem says:

    “Okay, we’ve gotten rid of all the advertisers who are out to screw people! Who’s left?”


    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      @diasdiem: That was my first thought. Those scammy ads are (were) so ubiquitous, one might think they practically owned the entirety of Google’s ad space, kind of like 9 out of 10 popup ads were for those X10 web cameras before people started using popup blockers.

  5. XianZomby says:

    What about the acai berry ads and the “one simple rule” ads? Also the ones where there’s the ripped guy and the fat guy “before and after” pics. Can we get rid of those?

  6. evilpete says:

    now if only facebook would follow

  7. jpdanzig says:

    Good for Google! The New York Times’ classical music radio station WQXR had sunk to running spots for direct response scammers in recent months, and it showed how desperate the Gray Lady had become for revenue. Fortunately the station has been sold to public radio, and the scammer ads are gone. Now classical liseners just have to contend with sponsor announcements that rattle on like ads…

  8. nstonep says:

    Okay…you do remember that google works with the gov’t right?

  9. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Great. Now if we can only get Cash4Gold, erectile dysfunction placebos, and bogus weight loss ads off TV.

  10. goodfellow_puck says:

    Awesome! I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t have done this yrs ago, instead of just banning individual ads. Seems like more money wasted having people vet the same scammy ads over and over again.

  11. Rask says:

    They’ll do this until they notice how much of a hurt it puts on their bottom line. Then they’ll be back to whack-a-mole.

  12. madog says:

    I just saw one of those “Local Moms” ads today for my first time today. It was while my wife was browsing one of her awful websites.

    Either Google needs to stop these advertisers from targeting mothers with scammy ads, or the Consumerist needs to stop reading my thoughts through my computer screen.

  13. sammy_b says:

    As a digital advertiser, it seems fishy to me that Google would ever try to ban individual ads – it is so easy to swap creative out on the backend ad servers that you could easily run legitimate creative for a day and then swap it out with scammy ad units.

    Google is especially aware of this because they own the Doubleclick adserver.

    Glad they are changing this policy though.

    Also – the internet is mostly free because it is mostly ad supported.

  14. self-check says:

    @Taed: You say you get anti-flue shots. What do you have against pipes, tubes, or channels for conveying hot air, gas, steam, or smoke, as from a furnace or fireplace to a chimney?

  15. Truthie says:

    Hold up a minute… you’re telling me I WON’T lose 20 lbs, get insanely ripped, and have whiter teeth if I obey this one rule?

  16. nybiker says:

    Another reason I love me my Opera browser. If it doesn’t already get blocked by it, I can generally use the block content function have it done.

    One problem are those ‘sponsored ads’ on sites. They seem to be a little trickier to get rid of. But at least they’re not popping up in my face.

  17. trying59 says:

    The real problem is that google doesn’t really stop the problems. Cash equals greed . How hard is it to remove a fake ad or a malware website from the top 50? It’s harder to just get a hold of google to tell them about those two things then to understand the problems and not click through.

  18. ElectronPlumber says:

    I do not think Google has been a mainstay of these advertisers for a long time. Go look at MySpace, Facebook, Foxnews, ABCNews, etc. They all have teeth whitening and get rich junk all over them.

    A drop in the bucket. These things are going to take serious legislation to demolish.

  19. VA_White says:

    One of the reasons I never click on google ads is because I never know if they are legitimate or scams. I hate wasting my time clicking through on a bogus ad so I just do not click. If google can get to the point where I have a fighting chance of clicking through to a real business, then I think this is a good move on their part. I will wait and see.

  20. downturnliving says:

    Wait…that’s not a real mom?!

  21. raief says:

    Thank you for the post. I am usually up on what is being done, but some how my vacation took me away for six days.
    That is what vacations are for.
    But so much happens while we are away, that we wonder why take vacations at all.