Microsoft’s search engine operation Bing refused to accept 130 million advertisements during 2016. Of the rejected ads, which totalled almost one sixth of a billion, no less than seventeen million were thought likely to be technical support scams. Here, however, Bing admitted that it had experienced difficulty in separating the good support providers from the bad. Other more certain potential frauds that the company turned down included attempts to sell fake goods and phish for personal information. In all cases, the unscrupulous advertisers attempted to cover their electronic tracks.
According to comments in the report released by Bing Ads with its statistics for last year (2016), the organisation took a proactive approach in order to prevent misleading or malicious advertisements and advertisers from appearing in its search engine results. The total of 130 million declined adverts was just over half the aggregate number of similar requests that were not accepted in the previous year (2015). Conversely, there had been an increase in the total number of advertisers who were banned from placing advertisements with Bing, from 150,000 during 2015 to 175,000 in 2016.
Over one million adverts were blocked from appearing in results when they were found to relate to the possible supply of counterfeit goods.
The company also implemented a policy to deal with software downloads in advertisements, for which it now publishes detailed guidelines. Four million adverts were rejected during 2016 for contravening these policies.
Bing also stated that it had been working to improve and strengthen those systems that detect the risks of scareware and the receipt of spurious warnings about computer virus infections. Its techies had been striving to prevent hijack attempts on users’ browsers; over three hundred potential advertisers of scareware sites had found their ads denied. In the case of phishing sites, more than 5,000 advertisers and 7,000 sites were detected and blocked.
Adverts that encouraged users to link to sites with bandwidth-hungry multimedia content were also scrutinised. As part of its detective work, Bing relies mainly on AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning to analyse such risks and detect suspicious cases. However, the company also performed what it termed manual checks.
Advertising is important to Bing Ads, which is why it employs a safety team of people and automation to protect the user experience and keep browsers free of malicious content. The company also works in partnership with Microsoft forensic teams.