Google released a python script tool that helps advertisers weed out ads that violate terms. The tool is not officially supported but is meant to help advertisers comply with their new Three Strikes policy for enforcing violations of their Google Ads Policies.
Strike-based Enforcement of Advertisements
In July 2021 Google announced a crackdown on repeat violators of their Google Ads Policies. The way the enforcement works is to first issue a warning, then three strikes for each kind of violation.
After the third strike the advertiser’s account is suspended unless the suspension is successfully appealed.
The Google help page for the strike-based enforcement described it like this:
“To help ensure a safe and positive experience for users, Google requires advertisers to comply with Google Ads policies.
As a part of the Google Ads enforcement system, Google will begin issuing strikes to advertisers, which will be accompanied by email notifications and in-account notifications to encourage compliance and deter repeat violations of our policies.”
Problematic Google Ads that Can Cause Account Suspension
The Google Ads policies that Google is concerned about are meant to ensure a quality user experience for those who view the Google Ads advertisements.
Google is watching out for these policy violations:
- Enabling dishonest behavior
- Unapproved substances
- gun parts and related products
- Other Weapons
The above is a partial list. Google’s help page for the strike-based system noted that other policy violation types may be added to the list.
Google Bowling Automatic Disapproved Ads Remover
Google’s developer blog announced they are releasing an auditing tool called “bowling” (a play on the word strike) that is meant to assist advertisers identify and remove problematic advertisements.
The auditing tool was released to help advertisers avoid permanent suspension of their Google Ads accounts.
The announcement noted:
“…Bowling is a mitigation tool allowing clients to act and remove disapproved ads before risking account suspension.
The tool audits (and offers the option to delete) disapproved ads that may lead eventually to account suspension in perpetuity.”
Google’s Bowling tool has two modes:
- Audit mode
- Remove mode
The remove mode deletes disapproved advertisements and creates a log file.
Ads Remover Tool Comes with a Disclaimer
While this is a Google produced python script, the GitHub repository for the Bowling tool has a disclaimer that distances Google from the tool.
The first part of the disclaimer reads:
“This is not an officially supported Google product. Copyright 2021 Google LLC. This solution, including any related sample code or data, is made available on an “as is,” “as available,” and “with all faults” basis, solely for illustrative purposes, and without warranty or representation of any kind. This solution is experimental, unsupported and provided solely for your convenience.”
Google Three Strikes Bowling Tool
The Google Bowling tool is meant to help advertisers be proactive in removing problematic advertisements. But it’s also not offered with any warranty.
Find the relevant pages for the tool below in the citations.
Read the Google Ads Remover Tool Announcement
Visit Google’s Git Hub Page for the Ad Remover Tool
Read Google’s Help Pages for the Strike-based Policy Enforcement
Google to pay $391.5 million settlement over location tracking, state AGs say
Google has agreed to pay a $391.5 million settlement to 40 states to resolve accusations that it tracked people’s locations in violation of state laws, including snooping on consumers’ whereabouts even after they told the tech behemoth to bug off.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said it is time for Big Tech to recognize state laws that limit data collection efforts.
“I have been ringing the alarm bell on big tech for years, and this is why,” Mr. Landry, a Republican, said in a statement Monday. “Citizens must be able to make informed decisions about what information they release to big tech.”
The attorneys general said the investigation resulted in the largest-ever multistate privacy settlement. Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, a Democrat, said Google’s penalty is a “historic win for consumers.”
“Location data is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information Google collects, and there are so many reasons why a consumer may opt out of tracking,” Mr. Tong said. “Our investigation found that Google continued to collect this personal information even after consumers told them not to. That is an unacceptable invasion of consumer privacy, and a violation of state law.”
Location tracking can help tech companies sell digital ads to marketers looking to connect with consumers within their vicinity. It’s another tool in a data-gathering toolkit that generates more than $200 billion in annual ad revenue for Google, accounting for most of the profits pouring into the coffers of its corporate parent, Alphabet, which has a market value of $1.2 trillion.
The settlement is part of a series of legal challenges to Big Tech in the U.S. and around the world, which include consumer protection and antitrust lawsuits.
Though Google, based in Mountain View, California, said it fixed the problems several years ago, the company’s critics remained skeptical. State attorneys general who also have tussled with Google have questioned whether the tech company will follow through on its commitments.
The states aren’t dialing back their scrutiny of Google’s empire.
Last month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said he was filing a lawsuit over reports that Google unlawfully collected millions of Texans’ biometric data such as “voiceprints and records of face geometry.”
The states began investigating Google’s location tracking after The Associated Press reported in 2018 that Android devices and iPhones were storing location data despite the activation of privacy settings intended to prevent the company from following along.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich went after the company in May 2020. The state’s lawsuit charged that the company had defrauded its users by misleading them into believing they could keep their whereabouts private by turning off location tracking in the settings of their software.
Arizona settled its case with Google for $85 million last month. By then, attorneys general in several other states and the District of Columbia had pounced with their own lawsuits seeking to hold Google accountable.
Along with the hefty penalty, the state attorneys general said, Google must not hide key information about location tracking, must give users detailed information about the types of location tracking information Google collects, and must show additional information to people when users turn location-related account settings to “off.”
States will receive differing sums from the settlement. Mr. Landry’s office said Louisiana would receive more than $12.7 million, and Mr. Tong’s office said Connecticut would collect more than $6.5 million.
The financial penalty will not cripple Google’s business. The company raked in $69 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2022, according to reports, yielding about $13.9 billion in profit.
Google downplayed its location-tracking tools Monday and said it changed the products at issue long ago.
“Consistent with improvements we’ve made in recent years, we have settled this investigation which was based on outdated product policies that we changed years ago,” Google spokesman Jose Castaneda said in a statement.
Google product managers Marlo McGriff and David Monsees defended their company’s Search and Maps products’ usage of location information.
“Location information lets us offer you a more helpful experience when you use our products,” the two men wrote on Google’s blog. “From Google Maps’ driving directions that show you how to avoid traffic to Google Search surfacing local restaurants and letting you know how busy they are, location information helps connect experiences across Google to what’s most relevant and useful.”
The blog post touted transparency tools and auto-delete controls that Google has developed in recent years and said the private browsing Incognito mode prevents Google Maps from saving an account’s search history.
Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees said Google would make changes to its products as part of the settlement. The changes include simplifying the process for deleting location data, updating the method to set up an account and revamping information hubs.
“We’ll provide a new control that allows users to easily turn off their Location History and Web & App Activity settings and delete their past data in one simple flow,” Mr. McGriff and Mr. Monsees wrote. “We’ll also continue deleting Location History data for users who have not recently contributed new Location History data to their account.”
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.