Google faces lawsuit over 'deceptive' AdSense ads

24 Apr 2008

(Associated Press via NewsEdge) An advertiser sued Google in federal court claiming the company deceived him and charged for ads displayed on third-party web sites, even though he left blank an 'optional' box that seemed to address the issue.

The dispute is over Google's popular AdSense program, which targets ads to keywords in articles and other content at participating sites.

The program complements the traditional AdWords program, which runs targeted ads alongside Google's search results. Ads under both programs generate the bulk of Google's revenues.

The lawsuit accuses Google of defrauding advertisers out of millions of dollars collectively by 'redefining the universally understood meaning of an input form left blank.'

The plaintiff in the case, David Almeida, had signed up for Google ads to promote his private investigation business in Massachusetts. Because he did not want to buy AdSense ads, Almeida said he left the maximum per-click bid blank, believing 'optional' meant he could opt out of the AdSense program by doing so.

Instead, it turned out the AdWords bid applied when he did not exercise that option, and he should have put 'zero' into the box to opt out, said his attorney, Brian Kabateck.

'Most of the customers that actually fall victim to this scam are the unsophisticated advertisers,' Kabateck said. 'The sophisticated advertisers will know better, will know how to do it. These are the little guys that don't have money to lose on a program like this.'

Google declined comment, saying it had not yet received the complaint.

© 2008 The Associated Press

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