updated 09:20 am EDT, Fri July 18, 2008
Google sued for false ads
Google is reportedly placing a percentage of its AdWords ads on parked and error sites, which carries no benefit for paying consumers. This practice has landed the search engine giant in hot water, with a federal class action lawsuit filed on Thursday in a US District Court in San Jose, California. Lawyer and Google advertiser Hal Levitte noticed the practice back in 2007, then filed a complaint late last week claiming Google is unjustly enriching its promises. The lawsuit was filed by Kabateck Brown Kellner, and, if approved by the judge, could involve a large numbers of litigants who advertised with Google in the last four years.
The AdWords service promises to place customer ads on content-related third-party websites, but Levitte found as much as 16.7 percent of the ads he placed for his legal practice ended up on websites that contained nothing but ads and were therefore unlikely to attract any legitimate user traffic. The company places ads on the undesired sites automatically, but has started to allow customers to opt out of this since March, although the process is complicated as it is four clicks deep on the Google AdWords customer site.
While Levitte's bill for the undesired and misleading ad placement came up to about $140, the outcome of this class action lawsuits could have a small effect on thousands of individuals' wallets, but represent one big hit for Google.
Kabateck is currently representing Google customers in another lawsuit centered around Google placing customers' ads on sites other than Google.com, against their wishes. The law firm recently won a multi-million dollar settlement from Yahoo! and helped in getting a $90 million settlement from Google based on click fraud and the companies' lack of its policing.