AOL, Google, Facebook, Twitter Launch To Take On Ad Scams

Tech Support Ad ScamsIn an effort to address the plague of deceptive advertising which pocks the online ad industry, several of the biggest players are pooling their resources. Today, AOL, Facebook, Google and Twitter announced the launch of to expose and educate consumers about malicious advertising.

The organization’s aim is to raise awareness among consumers as well as US policymakers about online ad-related scams. will publish regular Bad Ads Trend Alerts. It’s a follow up on the Ads Integrity Alliance which the major ad sellers formed two years ago but folded after a year. hopes to have more success with consumer outreach and education.

The group’s initial Bad Ads Trends Alert highlights tech support advertising scams. Facebook and Google both found advertisers that were presenting themselves as official representatives of various tech companies offering support services for issues such as login problems on Gmail and Facebook. Users were then encouraged to download and install “special software” containing malware, spyware, adware and any number of other infecting applications in a guise of solve an issue.

Often ads and landing pages contained 1-800 numbers to take the scam offline and make it harder for Google and Facebook to detect the fraudulent activity through their automated detection programs.

In the review, Google and Facebook say they removed over 4,000 suspicious advertiser accounts linked to over 2,400 tech support websites. (For a look at what some of these ads looked like on Google last summer, see our coverage on this issue from last August on Search Engine Land Spotted: Stunning AdWords Policy Violations That Facebook & Google Shouldn’t Be Happy About.)

“While limited in volume and scope, these tech support ad scams not only present a real problem for victims, but also for advertising platforms, publishers and legitimate advertisers,” said Rob Haralson, Executive Director of “Internet companies have worked hard to remove these ads from their platform, but they need consumers’ help too.”

The group has set up a page on the site where consumers can report suspicious ads they see on AOL, Facebook, Google and Twitter’s platforms at

“Ads fund today’s internet and help businesses grow, and we want to keep people’s experience with ads positive for everyone on the web,” continued Haralson. “It’s important for everyone – people, marketers, platforms, and policymakers – that the ecosystem thrives.”

In its own report issued in January, Google reported it removed over 350 million bad ads in 2013. Additionally, it said it received more than 100,000 complaints about malicious software and toolbar downloads.

Related Topics: AOL | Channel: Industry | Facebook: Advertising | Google | Google: AdWords | Internet Marketing Industry | Twitter: Advertising


About The Author: writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting. Beyond Search Engine Land, Ginny provides search marketing and demand generation advice for ecommerce companies. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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  • Arun Kallarackal

    A good and commendable move by the biggies, I must say that
    first! Yes, will pave way towards making masses more educated
    about the dark side and scammy nature of some bad ads.

    In fact, I too have been guilty of providing such adware
    infected ads through some blogs of mine in the past. I served ads of a bad ad provider
    and it resulted in the download of adwares, whenever someone clicked on the

    Soon, Google made me aware of this issue through webmaster
    tools and asked me to take corrective measures. Since then, I have been real
    careful while serving ads.

    But that it just my case. Bad ads are still being served on
    many other blogs. People also fall prey to them many times!

    Hope that this new initiative will force the authorities to
    chart some new, innovative laws regarding the issue too!

    I found the link to this article on Kingged.


  • fixpcerror

    This is something which needs to be addressed more seriously and something which requires more resources. Understanding that main culprits being in the Third party Tech Support industry, how do the search giants know which ones are legitimate and which ones aren’t ?

    Also what criteria are they using in identifying the culprits? There is defintely a huge demand for such third party services which is not being fulfilled. What is the solution to this ?

    We started our company on this premise only but were not welcomed in the online advertising network, even after educating people of the risks through our website and being actively involved with such organizations. What could be the criteria in separating the bad apples from the good ones ?

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