Protecting our mobile ad network

Thursday, December 6, 2012 | 7:00 AM

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We recently described some of the work that we do to keep ads safe, and our broader efforts to protect against invalid activity in the AdSense network. Today, we want to share some of the ways that we’re protecting ads on mobile networks.

We’ve adapted many of our systems for protecting desktop ads to do the same for mobile ads. These include automatically discarding invalid traffic as it occurs, refunding any money from this traffic, and investigating each and every claim to make our systems better. You can learn more about why and how we do this in the Ad Traffic Quality Resource Center.

But mobile-specific attributes like touch screens, app usage, and portability require us to adapt our approach to the platform. For example, it’s important that our systems are driving intentional clicks on ads, which is more complicated on mobile due to the limited space on a phone and the relative inaccuracy of a finger. Our mobile-specific ad formats help minimize unintentional clicks by clearly delineating ads from content. In addition, text-based mobile ads require an additional click if users accidentally click on the edge of an ad.

Protecting our mobile ad network also means ensuring that we provide a good ad experience within apps. We’ve seen that refreshing in-app ads too quickly leads to a poor user experience and lower advertiser value. That’s why we’ve recently increased AdMob’s minimum refresh rate to 30 seconds. We’ve seen this increase publishers’ fill rates dramatically, and improve traffic quality on the refreshed ads by 26%.

The AdMob Ads SDK also provides a safe environment for ads within mobile apps. The SDK enables publishers to incorporate a variety of formats, allows advertisers to choose which apps to show up in, and enables our team to analyze signals that indicate that ads are being displayed and used properly.

On these and all ads, our team constantly monitors and re-evaluates how we detect invalid activity. We’ve updated our detection algorithms to keep up with the steady stream of new mobile devices and implementations, improving the quality of mobile ad traffic by over 12% since 2011. We’ve also disabled thousands of non-compliant mobile publishers in 2012 and returned millions of dollars, including Google’s share, to affected advertisers.

Lastly, we’ve developed the AdMob publisher best practices guide to help publishers create a good experience for users and advertisers, so that publishers can get good long-term performance and avoid problems with invalid activity.

Posted by Henry Kim, on behalf of the Ad Traffic Quality Team