A key strategy in Google’s attempts to keep users onside is the way in which they treat advertisers with strategies that either harm or simply annoy the searching public. Previously known as the ‘Bad Ads’ Report, this year’s ‘Better Ads’ Report highlights the scale of their endeavours and the issues that can lead to an ad being blocked. The numbers are quite staggering and growing each year, 350 million in 2013, 524 million in 2014 and 780 million last year. As they point out, if you viewed each ad for just one second, it would take almost 25 years to go through them all, which is why they need a global team of over 1000 people using sophisticated software just to keep up. Of course many of the ads are simply illegal and include links to phishing sites, counterfeit goods and unapproved medicines. Others were blocked for making unsubstantiated weight loss claims, downloading unwanted software that slowed up computers or changed home pages and others that suggested that your computer had developed a problem and needed their fix. Apart from these obvious bad ads Google is also keen to point out any ploys used by advertisers to trick users into accidental clicks would result in them being blocked. Placing links too close to buttons, resulting in ‘fat finger’ syndrome, was a fast track to advertising oblivion. Intrusive ads that cover the content viewers are trying to get to are also forbidden. These examples both come under Google’s policy rules and along with other violations of their codes resulted in 25,000 mobile apps losing the right to show their ads, and another 1.4 million applications being rejected. New for this year has been Google’s ‘Mute This Ad’ which allows users to block ads by clicking the ‘X’ at the top. This not only stops the ad in question but also similar ones from the same advertiser. Feedback is encouraged, which generated over 4 billion responses in 2015 and is being used to tailor individual experiences and a more targeted ad stream. Looking forward, Sridhar Ramaswamy, who runs Google ads, has stated that they will be ‘further restricting what can be advertised as effective for weight loss and adding new protections against malware and bots.” For advertisers the message delivered in the ‘Better Ads’ Report is clear, play by our rules or you won’t be seen.