What are bad ads?

Bad ads are unwanted ads. An unwanted ad could be an ad from a competitor, an ad that violates policy, a miscategorized ad that displays despite category blocks, or even a malicious ad that may auto-redirect the user off your page or out of your app. Basically, a bad ad is any ad that you don’t want on your page.

There are several reasons that you might not want certain ads to show on your website. Sometimes there are content or business reasons. Sometimes there are philosophical issues.

Maybe you have a vegan food blog and you don’t want to show an ad for a steakhouse. Maybe you see an ad that’s a violation of Google policies and shouldn’t be there.

Preventative measures

Use Google Ad Manager’s Protections to block ads that link (or click-through) to specific URLs or app downloads. For example, you can easily block all ads linked to your competitor at www.example.com.

You can also block ads belonging to specific advertisers and brands, as well as ads that fall into general categories.

You may want to set up these protections to prevent ads from competitors, for philosophical reasons, or to prevent channel conflict with one of your direct advertisers.

Grab the click string

If you see an ad on your website that shouldn’t be there for any reason, the most important information you can capture is the click string. The click string is the URL that takes the user to the ad.

Google can use the click string to look up everything about the ad, including which website it served on, what time it served, and whether it came from a Google account or from another partner.

To capture the click string, you don’t have to click on the ad. In fact, if the ad is potentially malicious, you shouldn’t. Instead, right-click on the ad and select Copy Link Address. This will copy the click string to your clipboard. 

Send the click string to Ad Manager’s publisher support by going to the Contact Us option in the Help Center.

Capture the click string on a mobile device

Disconnect from any internet or cellular service then click or tap the ad. 

The ad will attempt to open in a browser window, but because there’s no service it won’t load. The URL will expose the click string. 

This approach can also be used on a computer.

What if you can’t access the click string?

If you can’t access the click string, record the exact URL. You’ll need to record the full URL where the ad displayed, not just the top-level domain. Include the exact date, time, and time zone when the ad appeared. Publisher support will use this information and check logs to see what might have served and when.

It would also be helpful to capture a screenshot that includes the full web page and ad in question. Using this screenshot, publisher support will search for the ad creative against all the ads that may have served on your site and take appropriate action.

Identify the source of an unwanted ad using Ad Manager’s Delivery Tools

Do you see that unwanted ad but can’t obtain the click string? Another way to block an unwanted ad is through Ad Manager’s Delivery Tools. You’ll need to enable the Publisher Console first. Follow the steps in the article, Enable the Publisher Console—Bookmark Method in Google Ad Manager’s Help Center.

Now, let’s look at how to block that unwanted ad using the Delivery Tools.

Upon seeing the unwanted ad, enable the Publisher Console. Click the Open in Delivery Tools button and return to Ad Manager where information about each ad request and what ad delivered is displayed.

If the unwanted ad is coming from ad exchange, you have the option to block it. Once you locate the row that refers to the bad ad, go to the Action column and click Inspect. Click the Block Creative tab. You have the option to Block Ad or Report to Policy. The blocked ad will appear in the Blocked tab of the Ad Review Center. 

If you can’t see the ad yourself but are provided a screenshot by one of your users or from someone else in your organization, you can use Delivery Tools to upload the screenshot to identify where the ad is coming from.

From Delivery Tools, select Screenshot, then upload the image. The screenshot must be a PNG file. Be sure that the screenshot you upload is the actual .png file and not a screenshot of an email attachment. It must also have only one ad creative in it and include some page context around the creative. 

Once your screenshot is uploaded, you’ll be able to tell if the creative is from ad exchange. If it is, you’ll have the option to Block Ad or Report to Policy.



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