Lawyer Sues Google For Putting His Ads On Parked Domains

from the what-else-can-you-sue-google-over? dept

Every time you think someone has sued Google for every possible sin imaginable, someone pops up with yet another lawsuit. The latest is that Google is being sued by a lawyer (who, of course, is trying to turn it into a class action suit) complaining that the ads he bought on Google were shown on parked domains and error pages which resulted in bad clicks. There are a few separate issues here that all seem to get mixed up in the lawsuit. If the the ads were really shown in places where they weren't relevant, then it shouldn't be a huge problem, as you would expect that there wouldn't be many clicks (Google's ad system only costs money if someone clicks). And, indeed, there were only a few clicks -- and none of those clicks turned into real leads for the lawyer. So the real question might be whether or not those clicks were fraudulent clicks -- but that doesn't seem to be what the lawsuit claims. Instead, the guy is just upset that his ads were shown on such pages and claims that Google is guilty of "fraud, business code violations, and unjust enrichment" for showing the ads on such pages. This seems like a tough one to prove. Google shows ads in plenty of places. If the clicks were fraudulent, that's one thing. But just because the clicks on certain pages didn't turn into leads (and we're talking about a rather small sample size that the guy is basing this on) it doesn't mean that Google is guilty of "fraud."


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    SteveD, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 3:58am

    The mind boggles

    Only a lawyer could turn $136.11 of ineffective advertising into a class-action suit against a international corporation.

     

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  2.  
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    Shohat, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 4:45am

    Has a point...

    The bids on certain keywords justify the very high price due to the simple fact that even in case of a microscopic 0.5% conversion rate, it's worth bidding on certain keywords.

    Adwords for Search bids are around x20 higher than Adwords for Content due to the conversion rate, but even Adwords for Content ads are triggered by relevant keyword(s) on the page which they are presented on.

    Parked pages effectively host NO content, and lower the coversion rate even lower than the normal Adwords for Content conversion rates, which are low as it is.

    But technically, Adwords for Content is triggered by keywords inside content, and since Parked pages host no real content, his ads should not appear there.

     

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  3.  
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    ScytheNoire, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 5:22am

    Sue in France

    He should sue them in France, he'd probably win there easily. France seems to be the forerunner in the loss of common sense.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Shohat, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 5:28am

    Re: Sue in France

    Care to back the "lack of common sense" with some math, ScytheNoire?

     

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  5.  
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    Dumb Ape, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 5:36am

    Ah stupid user syndrome

    This is just a case of the following occurring:
    A stupid user performs a search or types in an incorrect URL
    They are delivered to a parked domain and they don’t know why they ended up on the wrong page.
    Since many parked domains have search functionality the stupid user perform a search. The point in a parked domain is to make some extra money so chances are is that there is some form of advertising on it.
    The search results works off of the Google Ad Words which displays an advertisement for the said lawyer.
    Stupid user clicks on the advertisement in hopes of it being the lawyer that will sue over anything.
    Lawyer gets billed for the ad being clicked.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Adwords User, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 6:12am

    Durr...

    If you don't want your ads to show on parked domains or error pages, all you have to do is check a couple boxes... Its not hard at all.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Levoc, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 6:13am

    Re: Re: Sue in France

    Shohat, I believe ScytheNoire was referring to the techdirt article "eBay Has To Pay $63m Because A French Court Doesn't Know A Platform From A User".

    Here's the link for it.
    http://techdirt.com/articles/20080630/1127401554.shtml

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Shohat, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 6:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Sue in France

    I'm not talking about France, I don't care about them and their courts.
    I am asking about why he thinks that the issue at hand makes no sense.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    James, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 6:32am

    Who would hire a lawyer who advertised on google

     

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  10.  
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    ehrichweiss, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 6:34am

    Re: Durr...

    I wish we had mod points here because that's the heart of it right there: another stupid user with another stupid lawsuit. Perhaps he should have contacted customer support first.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 6:51am

    Ballsack Wars

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    mike, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 6:52am

    parked domains

    I run a 15 million dollar SEM program. We monitor the performance of every ad on every site in the Google network. Parked domains have some high success rates. I dont care how a user gets to my site as long as he/she gets there and has interest. Any decently run program can weed out "bad sites". This is just another yoko that doesnt understand the internet or marketing.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 7:14am

    50 lashes for this idiot lawyer --- from a class action group of 10,000.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Hero, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 7:50am

    Suer or sewer?

    Me advertized on superbowl and nobody bought me kitties. Me gonna sue TV, organizers and players.

     

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  15.  
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    JB, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 8:23am

    He paid for advertising

    The lawyer should realize that no matter what, advertising is never 100% effective. Let's have anyone with a small portion of ineffective advertising start suing those that host their advertisements, that seems like a great plan. I have always seen lawyers as the downfall of civilization and such frivolous lawsuits keep adding truth to the statement.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Ty, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 8:27am

    Everyone loves a lawyer ;)

    Just another reason to believe lawyers are scumbags

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Shelley, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 8:29am

    This isn't unjustified

    First of all, this is a perfect class action type of lawsuit. It could impact many people at small amounts of money against a large, well funded company. That's the whole point of class action lawsuits.

    Secondly, the opt out checkboxes were not available when this lawyer placed the ads. You can't chastise him for using something that didn't exist at the time.

    Third, as for his not understanding how the internets work, he shouldn't have to. He felt that his ads being placed in these two contexts impacted on the effectiveness of the ads. He was given no option not to have these ads appear on these pages. In the lawsuit, he's contending that he was charged the same cost for what he deemed to be low quality ads, as what he was paying for "high quality" ads.

    You may not agree, because he's a lawyer, and Google is tech, so Google is automatically right in your minds; but that doesn't mean that the lawsuit is invalid.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Slavito, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 8:46am

    Glad to hear that

    I am guessing I am probably not going to be a very popular guy here if I said that I think I am glad somebody is doing it.

    It seems that very few of you have ever been in advertiser's shoes (except for the person who thinks traffic from parked domains is great). I have. The company I worked for pretty much had to cancel their Adwords participation because it was nearly impossible to control what Google does with distribution. We were fairly technical, but I imagine that 1000's of smaller outfits - especially lawyers, small mom&pop stores, have NO idea what's going on with their ads and why they are not converting.

    It's not a question of advertising not being 100% effective. With parked domains, by and large, It's fraud, pure and simple. These "parked domains" get practically no clicks because somebody just "types in the name". However, they are an excellent vehicle for monetizing traffic through low-cost and automated clicking schemes. Google knows it full well and what it's doing with forcing everybody to accept these clicks is tantamount to participating in this fraud.

    I am not going to speculate on the motivation of the gentleman who's suing Google. (And to comment on "Ty"'s post, I don't believe the lawyer is the scumbag in this story.) However, if his actions force the company to "clean up their act", the outcome of this is positive for the advertising eco-system.

    And if all ad-filled parked domains disappeared overnight, I doubt anybody except those few individuals who control almost all of them would even notice.

     

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  19.  
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    del harris, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 8:51am

    google sued again

    not taking a side here, but what is it with your 100% 24 x 7 defense of google in each and every time. are they ALWAYS right? i don't think so.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    andy, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 9:16am

    not all ads are CPC at Google

    I don't think that all ads at Google are CPC -- at least ours don't work that way. There's the "paid search" stuff that's CPC and then there is the "advertize in our network" that is supposed to be contextual/etc, but is billed on a CPM basis. I don't know about other smallish businesses, but the bulk of our Google costs comes from CPM payments on the network (came actually -- we suspended our Google advertizing a few months ago).

    So, I think the lawyer has a legit beef here -- the parked domain stuff is not billed CPC, but CPM... and I like Google fine, but they make it damn hard to *not* advertize on the CPM network stuff.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anne H, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 9:20am

    Combined campaigns?

    I wonder if he was running a combined campaign which had search and the content network together. As for timing, Shelley is correct that the feature to exclude parked domains and error pages is relatively new.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Mike, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 11:06am

    Re: google sued again

    not taking a side here, but what is it with your 100% 24 x 7 defense of google in each and every time. are they ALWAYS right? i don't think so

    Right, because we never ever criticize Google. Except all the times we have:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070406/135305.shtml
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20 070215/095746.shtml
    http://techdirt.com/articles/20070817/192302.shtml
    http://techdirt.com/article s/20080715/0258271684.shtml
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20061201/160350.shtml
    http://www.tech dirt.com/articles/20070521/010952.shtml
    http://techdirt.com/articles/20080228/233046384.shtml
    http ://www.techdirt.com/articles/20050805/0943258_F.shtml

    And that's just with a really quick search.

    So, no, we don't defend Google all the time. They certainly do end up on the right side of many things, and we'll say so. But when they are on the wrong side, we have no problem making that point as well.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Hoeppner, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 1:29pm

    Plenty of sites fake ad clicks, I wouldn't be surprised if typo squatters relied on it.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 1:55pm

    Re: This isn't unjustified

    "In the lawsuit, he's contending that he was charged the same cost for what he deemed to be low quality ads, as what he was paying for "high quality" ads."

    Thats what you call a good deal they do not sell you high quality ads just low quality ones. The high quality ones is just an extra thats thrown in.

    Offer them the world and give them nothing and they will be disappointed. Offer them nothing and give them the world and they will love you.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Dan L, Jul 16th, 2008 @ 6:49pm

    Billboards?

    So if I pay an agency to put up a bunch of billboards for me and I don't get any calls can I sue because I found that SOME of them are in a "non effective target area"?

    maybe that is an over simplification, I am sure somebody will tell me.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    DavidtTan, Jul 18th, 2008 @ 1:33pm

    Come on, it's just another domain landing page

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    gogogle ( "google" with a typo ), Jul 18th, 2008 @ 2:13pm

    the name of domain gogole.me has been registered : http://sedo.com/search/details.php4?domain=gogole.me#google

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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