• Google Accused of Displaying Ads on "Low Quality" Sites
  • August 27, 2009
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • Google is facing allegations from at least five search marketers that it displayed their ads on “low quality” pages, including sites that are primarily advertisements.

    In a complaint filed last month in federal court for the Northern District of California, Bolaji Olabode charges Google’s AdSense for Domains and AdSense for Errors programs with placing ads on sites with little or no editorial content. Users that mistype a URL may land on such sites. Olabode alleges that he advertised on Google, but does not specify what products or services he sold.

    Last summer, four other search marketers—lawyer Hal Levitte, law firm Pulaski & Middleman, online retailer RK West, and container company JIT Packaging—sued Google for alleged low-quality clicks. The cases were consolidated and are proceeding in federal district court in San Jose.
    Levitte, for example, claimed that 16.3% of the clicks driven by a recent AdWords campaign to promote his law firm were from parked domains—sites that are primarily ads—and 404 error pages. According to the lawsuit, none of these clicks resulted in business.

    Why it matters: The lawsuits charge Google with failing to make it clear that ads would appear on low-quality pages, and providing no easily accessible means of opting-out of appearance on such pages. Whether the lawsuits will succeed may turn on what services Google promised—either explicitly or implicitly—to provide the users of its programs, as well as any disclaimers that it made.