Return Of Clickfraud Lawsuits?

from the it's-everywhere dept

The issue of "clickfraud" really seemed to die down for a while, but it appears to be back. As you may remember, about five years ago, a bunch of advertisers sued Google over clickfraud. Google took about a year to work out a settlement and we hadn't heard much about the issue for a while. But, of course, there are other web properties that have been building up a pretty big audience with their own advertising programs, and it looks like clickfraud has expanded well beyond Google. In recent weeks there have been articles about Facebook being targeted in a lawsuit over clickfraud, and Microsoft has gone in the other direction, being aggressive in suing a company it accuses of engaging in clickfraud.

But perhaps more interesting is that, despite the settlement, Google is now a target again, from a locksmith who claims that the clickthroughs on his ads jumped up, and he didn't get any new leads from them. He insists the clicks must have come from a competitor, though it's not clear he has any additional proof. Of course, it's difficult to see Google getting pinned with any liability in such a case. It clearly tries to eliminate clickfraud, and as a service provider it shouldn't be held liable for actions by third party scammers.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 12:19am

    Google "clearly tries to eliminate clickfraud"? Ben Edelman disagrees.

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

  • icon
    Richard (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 1:27am


    Surely the market will fix this. If Google Ads don't deliver what you expected - stop buying Google Ads. If Google does a bad job then no- one will buy Google Ads - Google will go bust.

    Actually Google is making a mint - suggests to me there is no real problem.

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

    • identicon
      sinrtb, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 4:44am

      Re: Market

      BP has not gone bust so the oil spill in the gulf should be ok.

      AIG isn't bust so really they should be considered good lenders.

      More specifically your ambiguous use of 'bad job' McDonalds makes crappy burgers, but every once in a while while I'm in a rush, i grab a couple cheeseburgers. Since i did buy the burgers does that mean McDonalds made good burgers, does that mean the did a 'good job'. Or does that mean my hunger v time ratio changed that day.

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

      • icon
        nasch (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 3:11pm

        Re: Re: Market

        It doesn't mean they made good burgers, but obviously they did a good job of giving you what you wanted, otherwise you wouldn't have spent your money there.

        I would say Richard is correct as long as there's enough competition in the market. I have no idea if that's the case. If google is so dominant that it's not practical for advertisers to go elsewhere, then there could be antitrust issues because we could not trust the market to sort it out. Otherwise yeah, customers can vote with their wallets.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 7:09am

      Re: Market

      its all about preception. Did i get a 30% increase because of google... because of the weather? because of chance/luck, word of mouth? etc?

      Hard numbers on the direct impact of PR efforts are notoriously hard to pin down. The exception is usually ads that greatly offend and tend to cause dramatic rise in sales/attention.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 1:27am

    This would explain the motive for making such a simple hack that could easily be fixed in minutes. All it did was add likes to somebody's profile. That's enough to sue over? Our legal system is a joke.

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

  • identicon
    RobShaver, Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 8:11am

    Your bank account is empty ...

    "as a service provider it shouldn't be held liable for actions by third party scammers."

    Teller: May I help you?
    Customer: I'd like to withdraw $1000 from my account. Here's my ID and account info.
    Teller: (after punching some buttons on a computer) I'm sorry, your account can't cover that amount.
    Customer: (turning red) But I had $10,000 in the account yesterday. Where did it go?
    Teller: (punches some more buttons) Our records show that you withdrew the money this morning.
    Customer: Well, I didn't. How was the money paid out.
    Teller: (click click) From an ATM.
    Customer: But the ATM has a $300 limit.
    Teller: (clickety click) Well it was from 33 ATM machines all over the state in a fifteen minute period. Did you give your PIN out?
    Customer: Please get your manager.

    Manager: I'm sorry but as a service provider we can't be liable for the actions of third party scammers.
    Customer: You wan'a bet?

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

  • icon
    jjmsan (profile), Jun 3rd, 2010 @ 8:19am

    Business Customer

    and if you are a business they win. Business are not protected against fraudulent withdrawals.

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

  • identicon
    Bob - Locksmith London, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 9:24am

    Hard to prove and even if you can, what's the benefit of suing?

    Unless you are running your own analytics system collecting visitor IP addresses and cross referencing those with Adwords clicks in the referrer, it can be very difficult to prove. Google seem to be pretty proactive in crediting accounts they suspect of invalid click activity though.

    The trouble is, most online businesses need Google to survive, and if any business 'successfully' sues Google for damages I can't see that business being indexed in the search engine for much longer and I'm pretty sure they'll be barred from ever having another Adwords account.

    Ultimately Google own us all.

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

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Hide this ad »
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Chat
Hide this ad »
Recent Stories
Hide this ad »


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.