Google puts a stop to tooth-whitening, belly-flattening scumbags

The Big Money reports that Google has made a "minor shift in its policy that has major implications." Instead of banning scammy ads for bogus teeth whiteners and stomach flatteners, Google will now ban the advertiser itself, "effectively neutering the advertiser's ability to shift from one ad and shell site to another."
Think of it like the struggle between the police and a graffiti vandal. Up until now Google has only been erasing the tags after they've been put up. Going forward, they're going to take away his spray cans and put a GPS collar on him, making sure he never does it again. It would be a principled stand by any company, but especially by Google because of its position in the market. I worry, though, that the rest of the industry won't pay attention. On this issue, Google might be a leader without any followers.
Google Does Non-Evil Thing: Bans White Teeth, Flat Stomachs


  1. Firefox has a built-in option to “Block images from”; just right click on an advertisement. If the publishers/distributors of advertisements want to keep their business they had better take care of what’s advertised.

    What’s really interesting is that the old media banned fringe politics and anything that would upset the masses. But that’s not really an issue for the web. Just so it isn’t a scam or purposely offensive it’s not an issue because people on the web are used to different opinions, attitudes and vulgarities.

    1. > If the publishers/distributors of advertisements want to keep their business they had better take care of what’s advertised.

      The scammers don’t care about repeat business.

  2. ” Think of it like the struggle between the police and a graffiti vandal.”

    Hopefully Google has the ability to distinguish between a gangbanger’s activity and Banksy’s art. I am not sure how much art is being created via adwords but wouldn’t want to see it go in the interest of pragmatism.

  3. I for one won’t be sad if I never see another ad for acai berry weight-loss. Thumbs up to Google for trying to address this.

    Although I was pleased to read in the article that Google has set up a review procedure for anyone who feels they have been unfairly banned.

  4. “On this issue, Google might be a leader without any followers.”

    I think that’s a little short sighted. Google is the market leader for a reason: they offer relevant search information for their users. Simply put, this is an extension of that mission. Adwords are not excluded, since scammy adwords lead to a bad user experience.

  5. “On this issue, Google might be a leader without any followers.”

    That’s like saying that none of the regular-sized apes followed King Kong up the Empire State Building. All others are a pretty distant 2nd to Google.

  6. I had to smile when the article was accompanied by a “Chapel Hill Mom: Lose 47lbs Following 1 Rule” ad. :)

  7. I saw one the other day, “Single Mom Discovers One Simple Secret to Teeth Whitening!”, which is dumb for a variety of reasons, but dang if that isn’t insulting to single moms.
    Thank goodness for Google cracking down on these horrible ads for snake oil.

  8. On one hand: Good for Google for doing the right thing.

    On the other hand: It is kind of scary, but what is to stop Google from doing this to anyone that displeases them. They can almost single handily destroy a business with the flick of a switch. “Be a real shame if something were to happen to those ads of yours…”

    Food for thought.

  9. Most ads I can deal with (and by that I mean ignore), but those tooth whitening, ab flattening, weight loss ads are EVERYWHERE. They aren’t relevant, they’re misleading, and because they are so common, they are down-right annoying.

    I agree, it’s a slippery slope for Google to judge what’s a scam and what’s the real deal — after all, who are we to say that it’s all just quackery?

    Still, I can’t stand those ads, and the pictures are clearly misleading. I’ll be quite happy to see them go.

    I think it’s important to note, the article implies Google was already removing the ads, but the advertiser was just submitting new ones. Google’s policy change means they can now choose the ban the advertiser entirely, which makes much more sense. They’ve been judging ad quality all along, they are just finally enforcing it in a way that will actually have an effect on the guilty.

    Given that I regularly hide ads anyway (because, frankly, I detest advertising of all forms), I’m more than happy to let Google ban as many advertisers as it sees fit. In fact, I’d prefer if they banned all advertisers for abuse.

    If I want a product, I’ll go looking for it. I don’t need big, flashy, screen real estate-stealing ads telling me what I should be buying. Relegate the ads to marketplaces (where I might actually be interested) and get them off of my blogs.

  10. So are these “belly flattening scumbag” scam adds the exact same ones that I see on right hand side of the boingboing webpage?

  11. This could be a big win for Google. By banning certain classes of advertisers, it’s implicitly raising the perceived quality of the rest and encourages advertising houses to avoid the scummier stuff. Of course, if the quality of it’s advertising space goes up, it can charge more too.

    But Google is going to have to be be careful to avoid gathering up too many advertisers in the ban, lest it create a market for Yahoo and Microsoft/Bing as a search engine.

    Another big risk to Google is the risk of additional political pressure from the left and right (and weird) to ban politically sensitive advertisements and advertisers too. This could spiral out of control.

  12. AUGH! Definitely!
    Ban those ugly scam ads!
    Is it too much to ask if I don’t want to see some person’s yellow teeth or a hairy belly while I’m trying to search for recipes?
    Sadly, my computer at home is wack up and I can’t install adblocks. :_:

  13. I love those “One simple rule” teeth whitening and weight loss ads. I already know the secrets and laugh every time I see those ads.

    “One simple rule for whitening teeth.”
    Yeah, brush your teeth.

    “One simple rule to lose weight.”
    Yeah, don’t eat so much.

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