Google Sues AdSense Publisher for Click Fraud

  |  November 24, 2004   |  Comments

Taking steps to protect the integrity of its AdSense program, Google takes its fight to court.

Google has filed its first click fraud lawsuit, charging a Texas-based Web site and its owners generated fraudulent clicks on ads in its AdSense program, causing Google to pay them for useless traffic to its advertisers.

The lawsuit, filed last week in a California Superior Court, alleges that, beginning in August 2003, Auction Experts International and its founders Sergio Morfin and Alexei Leonov clicked on AdSense ads on the Auction Experts site and paid up to 50 unidentified individuals to do the same.

The move should serve as a warning shot across the bow of potential AdSense abusers, according to Kevin Lee, CEO of search marketing firm Did-It.com. The potential for click fraud is very large, but it doesn't seem to be a widespread problem, he said.

"I'm pleased to see them take action so it doesn't get out of control," he said. "You can never control it 100 percent, but they're doing a pretty good job."

Once the abuse was discovered, Google terminated Auction Experts' AdSense account, credited advertisers for every click generated from Auction Experts' site, and initiated legal action, according to the lawsuit. Generally a search engine will stop after booting the offending site out of its program and crediting the advertisers, Lee said, adding that this may be the first case where a search engine took legal action.

In the suit, Google charges Auction Experts with breach of contract and breach of good faith, for violating the AdSense terms and conditions. Another charge of interference with a contract was made, for the disruption of Google's contractual relationships with its advertisers. It also adds charges of fraudulent concealment and fraud.

Google is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, a return of all money paid to Auction Experts through its AdSense participation, and court costs.

"We are vigilant in protecting our advertisers and the integrity of our programs. We have sophisticated technology that detects and eliminates fraud. This lawsuit against Auctions Expert demonstrates the success of our anti-fraud system and that we will take legal action when appropriate," said Google spokesman Steve Langdon.

In March, a programmer was arrested after allegedly attempting to blackmail Google for $100,000 to prevent him from releasing software he had developed to produce fraudulent clicks to defraud AdSense.

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, August 29 to take advantage of Super Saver Rates!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin Newcomb

Kevin Newcomb joined ClickZ in August 2004, covering search marketing and other online marketing topics. He has been reporting on web-based businesses since 2000.

Before the bubble burst, Kevin was a marketing manager for an online computer reseller, handling copywriting, e-mail marketing, search marketing and running the affiliate program.

With a combination of real-world marketing experience and years of business journalism, Kevin brings to ClickZ a unique ability to deliver news and training materials that help online marketers do their jobs better.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

Resources

Jobs

    • Partnerships Senior Coordinator
      Partnerships Senior Coordinator (Zappos.com, Inc.) - Las VegasZappos IP, Inc. is looking for a Partnerships Senior Coordinator! Why join us? Our...
    • Assistant Product Listing Ads (PLA) Manager
      Assistant Product Listing Ads (PLA) Manager (Zappos.com, Inc.) - Las VegasZappos IP, Inc. is looking for an Assistant Product Listing Ads (PLA...
    • Marketing Technology Analyst
      Marketing Technology Analyst (Alfred Music) - Van NuysMarketing Technology Analyst DEFINITION Under the general/direct supervision of the head of...