It looked like ‘win win’ for the leading search engine’s targeted ad service, AdSense, but it has recently had to sue over alleged abuse of the scheme.
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Google Inc, The Auctions Expert International LLC and Others
Superior Court of the State of California
Leading search engine service provider Google filed suit in respect of alleged abuse of its “AdSense On-line” E-Advertising Services. AdSense enables website owners who enter into an agreement with Google to benefit from Google’s advertising network. Google’s “contextual ad programme” serves ads based on the meaning and context of editorial content. The programme crawls web pages to determine their content, then matches it to ads.
For example, advertising for flights to Barbados can be placed alongside an article on a website about holidays in the Caribbean, if the website owner and flight provider have deals with Google.
The advertiser pays a high premium for reaching a limited but highly targeted audience, while the website content owner gets a slice of the action each time somebody clicks on the ad that has appeared on his site courtesy of AdSense.
All fine and dandy, everybody wins, but not if, as was alleged in this case, the system was abused.
Genuine clicks only
Google’s AdSense service terms and conditions make it quite clear that website owners will only be paid in respect of genuine clicks on the relevant ads. Even test clicks by the site owner on ads that pop up are disallowed. In this case, however, Google alleges that the site owner worked a number on the system and as a result, substantial numbers of artificially generated clicks were recorded on ads on the defendant’s site. By the time Google rumbled the alleged scam, substantial sums had been paid over to the defendant, who refused to repay the monies when demanded. The proceedings followed. Now the case, as they say, continues.
Why this matters:
Google would appear to have a clear case in breach of contract on the argued case, but the nature of the defendant’s position is as yet unclear. In any event Google are hedging their bets by adding to their breach of contract charge claims of breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing, tortious interference with contractual relations and concealment and fraud.