Google and Bing each institute bans on ads in the name of consumer protection
This week, Google announced a ban on ads for payday loans, and Bing said it will block all ads for third-party tech support services.
Google’s announcement that it would no longer accept advertising promoting payday and high-interest loans earlier this week was followed by news from Microsoft that Bing Ads will no longer accept any ads from third-party tech support services.
The two companies said the moves were to protect consumers from “deceptive or harmful financial products” (Google), particularly “populations most vulnerable to online scams and other fraud activities” (Bing Ads).
Google has been addressing payday loan listings in its organic search results with iterations of the so-called Payday Loan algorithm since 2013. That algorithm has targeted both spammy sites and queries related to payday loans.
In its announcement this week, Google said that as of July 13, 2016, “We will no longer allow ads for loans where repayment is due within 60 days of the date of issue. In the US, we are also banning ads for loans with an APR of 36% or higher.”
Facebook was the first major digital ad seller to put a ban on ads for payday loans, in August 2015. Google’s decision to follow suit has been generally met with approval and been widely praised by consumer protection groups.
"Google is demonstrating how profitable enterprises can also be ethical and supportive of financial fairness." https://t.co/NjmwYFl5SY
— Alvaro Bedoya (@alvarombedoya) May 11, 2016
Bing’s decision to disallow any ads from third-party tech support service providers comes after the company reported it blocked more than 15 million ads and 25,000 sites for third-party tech support scams. The ads are often created to look like they are from the tech companies themselves and have been a source of consumer confusion for years.
Bing Ad continues to accept ads for payday loans, while Google still accepts advertising from third-party tech support firms (though now in more limited availability). Whether each will follow suit in adopting the other’s bans remains to be seen.
Paid search monitoring firm AdGooroo estimates that Google’s ban on payday loans will cost the search giant $34.5 million in desktop ad revenue — or roughly .05 percent of the more than $67 billion the company took in in total advertising revenues last year.