I’d like to think myself pretty stringent on the quality of ads shown here at 404 Tech Support. Not only must ads be served fast but they must also be relevant and high quality. Fortunately for me, Google’s AdSense has been pretty compatible with my requirements. They serve ads up fast (some networks faster than others) and have a good user interface for seeing reports and controlling ads. They allow you to block ads by domain, name, or category.
The category blocking is what has made me most happy. With a few clicks, I can block weight loss (“This mom lost 35 lbs in 2 weeks!”), tooth whitening, or any of the other scammy ads. You can have up to 50 categories blocked at a time.
I like how the Finance category is labeled as “Too big to block” like it was “Too big to fail.”
In looking into this, there doesn’t seem to be any way to block what I’ve called disGUIsed Ads. One example of these ads are the download button ads. While these might not all be ads by Google, here are a few examples that illustrate the problem:
Go to download Paint.NET and you’ll see two prominent ads that invite you to “download”.
This article points out the problem exists trying to download Audacity.
Downloading Avast and other programs from Download.com has the same problem, as this article points out with two misleading ads.
There are some concerns with these ads from a security stand-point as well as from a user interface perspective. Intentionally deceptive ads are how malware-laden fake Firefox, fake VLC, and other software is spread and is why I prefer direct, reputable links to any software I would download.
Unfortunately, not even the ads here are immune to this deception but I can block individual sites to fight it.
Besides the General categories that you can block, pictured above, I have also had the Ringtones & Downloadables category under Sensitive categories blocked for the past few weeks but still see these disGUIsed ads with the prominent download buttons and little else.
So what can be done about it? Well, hopefully Google will hear complaints like this one and be sure that disGUIsed ads get added to the Ringtones and Downloadables category so they can be blocked or gives them their own category to help clean up the web. You can use the Google AdWords feedback form to tell Google anytime you see an ad like this.
Once we can tackle this problem, maybe we can move on to Facebook with this kind of bologna: