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.”

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Comments on “Lawyer Sues Google For Putting His Ads On Parked Domains”

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27 Comments
Shohat says:

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.

Dumb Ape says:

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.

mike says:

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.

JB says:

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.

Shelley (user link) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Slavito (user link) says:

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.

Mike (user link) says:

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/20070215/095746.shtml
http://techdirt.com/articles/20070817/192302.shtml
http://techdirt.com/articles/20080715/0258271684.shtml
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20061201/160350.shtml
http://www.techdirt.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.

andy (user link) says:

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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