Why Does YouTube Show Scam ads – They want to make money!


Quick Answer: Youtube doesn’t allow scam ads on its platform. However, because there are so many ads Youtube has to filter through and check, inevitably, many scam ads fall through the gaps.

Read on for a more detailed answer.

Youtube is a vast video platform that primarily makes its money from ads. Every day billions of hours of video are watched, and hundreds of millions of ads are served. These huge numbers of ads plus human nature contribute to why Youtube shows “scam” ads.

Below I’ve listed some of the remaining reasons why Youtube finds it challenging to eliminate scam ads from its platform:

A huge number of ads – Youtube makes most of its money from ad revenue. And to make lots of money, it needs to show lots, and I mean millions of ads, every minute of every day. With such a huge number of ads to monitor, some scams will inevitably find their way onto Youtube.

AI filters the ads – With huge numbers of ads comes huge problems: How do you scrutinize each ad that gets uploaded to youtube? How do you check each of them for profanity, nudity, or scams? It may surprise you, but, for the most part, humans don’t check all the ads before they go live. Instead, Youtube and Google use AI to assess each ad and filter out what they think are scam ads. Human administrators then look at any ads that are filtered out and flagged by the AI. The problem is that these AI filters are far from perfect. Lots of what you’d call “scam” ads fall through the cracks and never get the attention they need from a human administrator.

Human Error – As noted above, humans do enter the ad filtering system if a bad ad is flagged by the AI. However, a human’s opinion on whether an ad is bad or good is subjective. Some people may think a “scam” ad advertising a method to get rich quick in 24 hours to be a scam. Whereas other people may think the ad is legit.

Human nature – People have been trying to con others out of their money since money was invented. That will likely never change. The problem is, Scammers are really good at coming up with new scams to avoid detection. Whenever Youtube changes its ad algorithm, the scammers start figuring out a new way to scam people that the AI won’t be able to detect. And forever, the circle continues.

“The money’s the same, whether you earn it or scam it.”

Bobby Heenan

Subjectivity – I touched on this above, but a scam to one viewer may not be a scam to another. I may look at a get-rich-quick scheme and think, “That person is going to take my cash and run!”. However, another person might think, “That looks like a good idea. I’ll watch this ad.” Value, after all, is in the eye of the beholder. Even when it comes to so-called “Scam ads.”

YouTube puts money first – Harsh reality time for you: YouTube is in the business of making money, not protecting you and your money. Just as governments don’t stop scammers from ringing people’s homes or knocking on people’s doors, Youtube doesn’t have to stop all scam ads. Though it’s their platform, they are only bound by law to stop certain types of content. For example, they can’t allow content on the site that shows people how to make explosives. But outside of the bounds of the law, Youtube doesn’t have to do anything to protect you.

Buyer beware – Tying into the above, it’s not Youtube’s job to stop you from making bad decisions. Just as you can buy a dodgy car from a dodgy salesperson, you can click on dodgy ads that sell scam products. You’d be right to think it’s sad that such bad business practices are not stopped. Sadly, that’s just the world we live in. Making a profit often comes before keeping people safe. The answer is to educate yourself. If an ad makes a claim that sounds too good to be true, it is too good.

Action lag – Often, there’s a lag between Youtube being made aware that an ad is a scam and Youtube taking action. In that lag time, an ad can be shown thousands of times. With millions of ads shown across the globe every minute, it would be near impossible for even an AI to halt flagged ads instantly.

What to do if you think an Ad is a scam

You can report an ad as inappropriate if you believe it to be a scam. Only flagging ads can get scams or inappropriate ads removed from Youtube.

Follow this step-by-step process to report an ad:

1: To report a scam ad, first, when the ad is playing, click on the little circle with an exclamation mark.

2: A popup will appear, giving information about the ad provider. In the middle of this popup should be a bear button labeled, “report this add.”

3: After clicking through, You will be asked to state how you think the ad violated Youtube ad policy.

4: You’ll then be required to fill out a form that shouldn’t take any longer than 2-3 minutes.

5: When reporting an inappropriate ad is done, the Youtube algorithm will then look into the report and either remove it or send it back to the user who complained about it. The algorithm will also contact the advertiser who created the ad, informing them that the ad has been flagged.

If your complaint is valid, you should receive an email from Youtube informing you what action has been taken, and the ad has been removed.

Thanks for reading. Check out the infographic summary below:

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Nick Sinclair

Having played games since the golden age of the Commodore 64, Nick finally took the plunge and studied Creative Game Design in university. After 3 years of "Study", Nick co-founded a games company where he soon discovered his true calling: writing about games. 11 years later Nick writes about a tower of topics, but gaming is always stacked neatly at the top.

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