Last year, search engine juggernaut and tech titan Google announced that it would be prohibiting certain kinds of payday loan advertisements from showing up on the website. The company stated that it would place specific types of payday loan ads in the same category as guns, drugs and pornography.
Despite some level of skepticism, especially when reports showed that Google allowed a payday loan company it invests in to advertise, it looks like the tech firm has fulfilled its 2016’s pledge.
According to Google’s annual “Better Ads Report” for 2016, it took down a total of 1.7 billion ads. Of this amount, more than five million payday loan ads were disabled by Google since July.
“A free and open web is a vital resource for people and businesses around the world. And ads play a key role in ensuring you have access to accurate, quality information online. But bad ads can ruin the online experience for everyone,” said Scott Spencer, Google Director of Product Management, in a blog post.
He added that “bad ads pose a threat to users” and partners, and these ads hurt the open web.
Soon after Google altered its policies to include payday loan companies, it was discovered that some short-term, high-interest loan businesses had bypassed some of the functions. In order to combat this practice – known as “trick to click” ads – Google confirmed that it had enhanced its technology that locates and disables bad ads at a faster pace.
The report noted that Google found and disabled approximately 112 million “trick to click” ads. This is six times more than in the previous year.
At a time when the payday loan industry has been vehemently scrutinized and immensely chastised by consumer advocacy groups, public officials and non-profit organizations, Google said that it was about time to be socially responsible and ensure that the most vulnerable are not affected by these ads.
It seems as if the search engine giant believes that these payday loans send millions of consumers into never ending debt traps and debt cycles. Opponents of this move still contend, however, that Google is discriminating an entire legal industry by banning them from advertising on the website.
In addition, this report comes as the term fake news has entered into our vernacular. Google said that it suspended more than 1,300 accounts that participated in so-called “tabloid cloaking.”
This is when tabloid cloakers use current trends and hot topics, like a trending news story or a government election, and post ads that look like headlines for real articles. However, when the reader clicks on the link then they are redirected to websites selling weight loss products or other type of scammy items.
Google noted that it disabled 22 tabloid cloakers in December alone. It turned out that these 22 tabloid cloakers were responsible for ads seen roughly 20 million times in just one week alone.
The world of search engines continue to evolve and adapt to the times.