Microsoft Advertising blocks 1.6 billion ads while dealing with the pandemic, says annual ad quality review


Microsoft says it is committed to keeping the ads in Microsoft Bing fair and in compliance with its ad policies.

Microsoft called 2020 a “challenging and disruptive year” for many of us and Microsoft said its goal was to ensure its platform “delivers accurate and relevant information to our customers while protecting them from low-quality or harmful experiences.” With that, Microsoft published its ad quality in review for 2020 and here are some of the highlights.

Note, this report comes a week or so after Google released its ads safety report for 2020.

Microsoft sensitive advertising policy. Microsoft said it put in “strict measures in place to restrict advertising for products such as covid medicines, covid testing kits etc.” With that, it had its sensitive advertising policy lead to rejecting about 21 million ads, just through that policy alone. This was to help Microsoft with its goal to ensure it “continued to deliver accurate, high-quality results across our platform, at a time when low quality content was increasing,” the company said.

Blocking a lot of ads. Microsoft blocked a lot of ads, here are some high level stats the company provided:

  • Suspended about 300,000 advertiser accounts in 2020 (up 30% from 2019)
  • Removed 1.6 billion bad ads in 2020
  • Removed 270,000 sites from the ad system in 2020
  • Rejected 21 million ads over the sensitive advertising policy in 2020
  • Removed 20 million ads and 10,000 sites over its political advertising policy
  • Rejected 8.5 million ads and 7,000 sites over its third-party government services policy
  • Suspended 28,500 advertiser accounts, an increase over over 100% from 2019, due to tech support scams and phishing attacks

How. How did Microsoft handle all these ad rejections and advertiser suspensions? Microsoft said through automated fraud detection and other methods, as well as through manual removals through human reports.

In fact, Microsoft said in 2020, it received a total of about 50,000 complaints related to ads not being compliant per its advertising policies. The company investigated each complaint and found that about 65% of the reported ads to be in violation of Microsoft Advertising policies. Most of the complaints were related to trademark infringements, the company said.

Why we care. The past year was rocky at best and catastrophic at worst for many search marketers. The global ad market declined 10.2%, according to the Global Ad Trends: The State of the Industry 2020/21 report. With constant evolution, Microsoft and Google’s ad safety reports indicate that it’s evolving its platform and AI to keep up with the ever-changing global situation to help protect both advertisers and users.

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.

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