Click fraud detection company Click Defense has filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Google. The suit alleges the search giant has ignored the click fraud issue and therefore breached its duty to advertisers.
It's the second such suit to be filed in recent months. The first, in Arkansas, had as its lead plaintiffs Lane's Gifts and Collectibles and Caulfield Investigations. The named defendants in the case include Google, Yahoo, Lycos, AskJeeves, FindWhat.com, Buena Vista Internet Group, LookSmart, America Online, Netscape and Time Warner.
In the Click Defense case, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the plaintiff accuses Google of breaching its contract with advertisers; negligently failing to monitor its AdWords program; enriching itself unjustly at the expense of advertisers; and engaging in unfair business practices.
Google wouldn't comment on the case, but a spokesperson said, "We believe the suit is without merit and we will defend ourselves against it vigorously." Click Defense couldn't be reached for comment by press time.
Click fraud, in which an advertiser is billed for clicks that aren't from genuinely interested parties, has been a big topic of discussion in the industry as of late. A recent survey by the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO) found that 45 percent of advertisers were worried about click fraud, though they hadn't tracked it much. Meanwhile, 26 percent said it wasn't a significant concern. Only 6 percent labeled click fraud as a significant problem that they had tracked.
Click Defense, which sells technology and services around detecting and foiling click fraud, wants a judge to order Google to refund advertisers' money. It's also seeking $5 million in damages.
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Pamela Parker is a former managing editor of ClickZ News, Features, and Experts. She's been covering interactive advertising and marketing since the boom days of 1999, chronicling the dot-com crash and the subsequent rise of the medium. Before working at ClickZ, Parker was associate editor at @NY, a pioneering Web site and e-mail newsletter covering New York new media start-ups. Parker received a master's degree in journalism, with a concentration in new media, from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
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