In 2021, Microsoft took down over 3 billion ads, almost double the amount they cleared out in the previous year.
Microsoft attributes this significant increase in the number of bad ads to the continuous advancements being made in machine learning, multilingual models, and human moderation. Through the assessment conducted when coming up with Microsoft’s 2021 Ads Safety Report, Microsoft came across "fake celebrity-endorsed investment ads and more sophisticated account takeover attempts," which pose as great threats. These are some of the main reasons that prompted Microsoft to take down the ads.
Microsoft indicated that they tried to get a hold of this situation in real-time by suspending "nearly 10,000 accounts and removed 200,000 ads promoting these schemes." They got behind this was to reduce the number of fake-celebrity endorsed ads, which had significantly increased in 2021 in comparison to the previous year.
Furthermore, Microsoft also highlighted sophisticated account takeovers as a top threat to advertisers, where some used techniques to bypass the measures put in place. However, Microsoft indicated that they were working on a workaround where they “made use of advertisers’ behavioral identity signals to detect such scenarios and protect our customers. We then shared best practices with our advertisers to help them not fall prey to new tactics.”
Here is a detailed account provided by Microsoft highlighting the key findings:
- More than 3 billion ads were taken down.
- 270,000 accounts were suspended. (This is a decrease from 2020, when 300,000 accounts were suspended.)
- 400,000 websites were banned from its network. (This was an increase compared to 2020, when 270,000 sites were removed.)
Microsoft also used this chance to look into the complaints made by clients about ads that had breached their 2021 advertising guidelines. Microsoft found that about 60% of the ads were in violation of the set terms. Most of the ads taken down had trademark infringement issues.