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This 91 message thread spans 4 pages: < < 91 ( 1 [2] 3 4 > >     
Google Settles Class action Law suit.

 7:41 pm on May 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't know if I'm allowed to post this - But -

I just received this email from my adword rep:

Anyone else receive this?

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 3:53 pm (utc) on May 21, 2006]
[edit reason] please - no email posted on WebmasterWorld - please review tos - [/edit]



 1:34 pm on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

The mods have suspended two other threads about this, bar this one. Do they finally believe it's not a scam?


 1:55 pm on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

A couple more notes. The PDF says:

  • The settlement will provide advertising credits to class members who certify that they were the victims of “click fraud” or other invalid or improper clicks on online advertisements purchased from Google on or after January 1, 2002.
  • The settlement will resolve claims that Google breached its contracts with advertisers and violated other lato adequately detect and stop “click fraud” or other invalid or improper clicks on online advertisements.

So, in order to receive some credit (not cash, mind you, only credit), I have to certify that I have been a victim of click fraud, which is something that only the worst-hit victims will/can do.

Also, Google will not be liable for any more click-fraud lawsuits ever again? Seems like this class-action in Arkansas could have been written by Google themselves!

That said, I agree that click fraud is not something that can go away - there is just too much incentive around (for Google as well as for click fraudsters), and there are no watertight ways to prevent it. One can only expect Google to behave reasonably and keep it down.

After all, one can think of it like this: Say that your ad has a 10% conversion rate. A fraudulent click is one that - for your purpose - has no chance of ever turning into a sale. If 20% of all clicks are fraudulent, that means that of 100 clicks, only 80 are real, so your "real" conversion is 10 out of 80. In other words, eliminating click fraud altogether would push your conversion rate to 12.5%. Does that change your business plan radically?


 2:40 pm on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Could someone please clarify that? (I'm European and non-lawyer, so I have zero knowledge of US law regarding class action settlements). Thanks.

I also live in Europe and I don't fully understand this.

How the hell is it possible that a third party can make a settlement that rules thousands of other people will lose their right to sue Google for similar problems unless they opt-out? To me this doesn't really make sense.


 3:18 pm on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you have spent 2 million and suspect 50% click fraud would you participate?


 3:20 pm on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Could someone please clarify that? (I'm European and non-lawyer, so I have zero knowledge of US law regarding class action settlements). Thanks.

I wanted to provide some information (a scenario about class-action lawsuits) which may shed light on how this one (about click fraud) may work.

First, I am not a lawyer and any information is pure speculation. However, I have been a part of class action lawsuits before and this is what I think is happening:

Some entity (a company or a group of people) chooses to file a lawsuit against a business such as Google. When presenting these lawsuits to the presiding court, that court allows the entity to include others as a part of the lawsuit and a possible settlement.

If you choose to be included in the lawsuit, you will receive part of the settlement... (in this case, you should receive whatever amount of monies you lost as a result of click fraud).

If you do not wish to be included, you must say so and no monies will be sent to you, and you will likely lose the opportunity to sue... (or bring a lawsuit against) ...Google for the exact crime at any point in the future. However, some courts will allow individuals to later pursue with their own litigations but only if they give timely notice to the courts that they do not wish to be a part of the class action suit. (Confusing, I know!)

Meaning, if some group is filing a lawsuit against Google in reference to Case #1001, you won't be able to file your own lawsuit against Google for Case #1001... (which is why Google properly and legally allowed this company to contact anyone who has used Adwords)

So, you can have 100,000 people involved in a one-time claim against Google, but the courts won't allow 100,000 individuals to rip at Google for the same thing, 100,000 times.

In reference to future claims, the courts are basically saying that if this entity (whoever it is) brings this specific lawsuit against Google, they should include as many claims as possible since the U.S. judicial system doesn't allow anyone (or any business) to be prosecuted twice for the same thing.

In effect, everyone who wishes to prosecute Google for this particular instance of click fraud abuse, should jump on the bandwagon.

[edited by: celgins at 3:37 pm (utc) on May 21, 2006]


 3:36 pm on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

if that is the case then Google made a heck of a deal - wipe out all there click fraud suit concerns for the past 4 years for a one time fee of $90 million



 3:57 pm on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Guys - do not post email excerpts to webmasterworld. It is clearly in our TOS that we will not allow that on webmasterworld. We will not protect your identity from any agency or legal representatives that requests ip's of anyone posting contractually private emails. This is why we do not allow private email communication excerpts to be posted on WebmasterWorld.

Do a summary - do a paraphrase - do a 'my interpretation of events is' - but PLEASE do not copy and paste emails on to this system.


 3:59 pm on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

celgins, thanks for that information. What you say seems opposite to what the PDF says. The PDF says that if you don't opt out then you lose your rights, so you have to opt out to protect them. I'd love to hear something from a US lawyer who can clarify if they can really rob us of our legal rights like this.

Basically, if we don't write an international letter to the US, which they can claim never to have seen, we will lose our right to take legal action against Google for click fraud?

And why can they serve us this notice by email, but we cannot serve objections or opt-out by email? Surely that can't be right. Something is very fishy/phishy about this and I hope it turns out to be a big fraud/phish/scam.


 4:05 pm on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Something is very fishy/phishy about this and I hope it turns out to be a big fraud/phish/scam.

This is a very real email - many of us were forewarned of it. I think it's in all our best interests to discuss the implications rather than the legitimacy. The latter is simply a waste of time.


 4:32 pm on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have both opted-out of the settlement and have mailed a letter of objection to the court.

This proposed $90 million settlement is bad because:

* The settlement requires certification of a statement which is burdensome for small advertisers. The huge number of advertisers like me and my clients who do not have the resources to read their web logs and determine the percentage of fraudulent clicks are put in the untenable position of either foregoing the recovery of damages or else signing their name to a speculative statement which they cannot defend.

Victims of fraud should not be made to commit perjury to receive compensation.

* The proposed 33% payment to the plaintiff attorneys -- $30 million! -- is inappropriate. The attorney's clearly are not motivated to get the best result for the members of the class. Instead, they are blinded by financial riches to accept this inappropriate settlement and thereby securing their fee.

On the other hand:

* This settlement makes great sense for Google. If people don't opt out, then Google has settled with all claimants world-wide for a relatively paltry amount.
* The settlement makes sense for lawyers, because $30 million is a nice payday.
* The settlement makes sense for the lead plaintiffs and large advertisers. The settlement terms is crafted so that big business like them who have the ability to prove fraud get their money back.

The settlement does not make sense for small businesses who have been defrauded but who don't have the IT staff to read the web logs and analyze the extent of their losses.

I believe smaller businesses should opt-out of the current arrangement, for the principle if for no other reason. It's doubtful that we'll ever recover much. However, in the greater scheme of things our losses are not great and it makes no sense to participate in a large-company scheme that uses the legal system to make only big retailers and their lawyers rich.


 4:47 pm on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Guys (and gals)... as Brett just said, please do not post email excerpts to Webmasterworld. You have no idea of the legal ramifications if some private entity decided to come after you based on something you posted in a forum.

And why can they serve us this notice by email, but we cannot serve objections or opt-out by email? Surely that can't be right.

I can see your point, but also keep in mind that you signed up (and still communicate) with Adwords via email, and/or and online interface. It is highly likely that this is considered the "default" means for communication for this subject.

Of course, having to opt-out with genuine paper statements makes sense for the courts since there are too many ways to bypass, illegitimize, scam, etc.... via email.

For instance, if this company is bringing forth a lawsuit and allowed millions to opt-out by email, they would have to design a system to authenticate, store, and track those opt-out emails or requests.

They would have any easier time if those who are interested simply mailed them the appropriate documents.

I'm not saying I agree. Just stating my opinion about what I see happening.

As I stated before, class action lawsuits are kinda strange. If you go it alone, it is likely you won't get heard (for this particular case).

If in the future you decide to sue Google for more click fraud, libel, stealing your car, etc.... you could do so and it wouldn't be tied to this particular case.


 5:35 pm on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

will google sue the adsense advertisers then?


 5:36 pm on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

In case anybody is interested in reading the legal notice and FAQ's, they can be found at www dot clicksettlement dot com (sit back and expect a looong response time -- that site is under siege).


 7:52 pm on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Quite frankly most advertisers don't care about click fraud in Google because there is nothing they can do about it and you factor the fraud into your click price.

A few years ago, click fraud was not as widely publicized as it is today, so there may be advertisers who didn't factor it into their bid price.


 8:30 pm on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)

Maybe the answer lies in understanding the scale of the fraud better. With this kind of information everyone would be able to see what was in it for them. Personally I'm of the opion at least 1% of all the clicks we recieve have some sort of click fraud but I do not have any hard proof of this.

If you believe the recent ClickForensics report, the amount of click fraud overall has been estimated at 13.7%. A summary of the report is available here [fool.com].

IMO, this number is too low. But the courts might accept this as a more valid number. I think it is closer than the amount of click fraud that is implied by G's proposed settlement.


 10:15 pm on May 21, 2006 (gmt 0)


I'm verifying the authenticity of the e-mail with colleagues at Google... just waiting to hear back. I know that notices *were* soon to be e-mailed out, but I want to make absolutely positively sure for y'all that the mails you got (with that URL) are the Real Thing.

Given that it's Sunday now, I may not hear anything until tomorrow, but that'd be the latest. I'll post back here when I have an answer.

Please note that I cannot personally answer questions *about* the settlement. I'm in (organic) Search Quality, and don't have any additional information on this subject.


 1:36 am on May 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

It would be a nice gesture of Google to allow us to register our opt-outs and/or objections via the Google Adwords interface. I wonder if they've considered it. It would be secure (as secure as Adwords normally is anyway), cheap (all our details and database entries already exist) and would really help overseas webmasters.

Interesting that they remembered to include an English translation for those of use who can't read American. I've sent off for it but it's not yet arrived.

wired in asia

 2:23 am on May 22, 2006 (gmt 0)


Went to the site but can't find any ref. to the google case. Can you pls provide the exact URL (or hint).



 3:23 am on May 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

wire in asia,

Are you sure that you are visiting this site - [clicksettlement.com...]


 3:39 am on May 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm sure the initial email I got on Sat was real. I don't think a scam would tell me to wait until june to do something. I do think at this point I would be worried about some emails. This has become quite public and it would be real easy for somebody to send out another phishing email that looks a lot like this.


 4:00 am on May 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Lets say we can't do anything about this now.

Lets try to look at the facts at least.

My rough guess is that there was at least $10Billion in revenue that could be disputed (conservative est.). At least 1% click fraud (conservative est.) = $100M in Click Fraud.

So maybe the settlement is fair at $90M, in a conservative sense?

Maybe we're making a mountain out of a mole hill. What are we going to do about it anyway if we don't go along with this suite?

One other point, if we decided we weren't happy as international advertisers having our rights taken away by the US courts. Could we still sue Google in the UK for instance? I guess we gave that away in our sign up.

I'll continue to use Google anyway so this is sort of academic but interesting never the less.


 5:21 am on May 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm verifying the authenticity of the e-mail with colleagues at Google... just waiting to hear back.

Authenticity confirmed.

BTW, thanks for jumping in, Adam_Lasnik. When do we meet in person? ;)

Although the WebmasterWorld TOS prevents me from doing so, this is another one of those times in which I wished I could link to the online resource which routinely posts regarding all things AdWords - and which posted an update on this subject a short time ago.



 7:02 am on May 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I wished I could link to the online resource which routinely posts regarding all things AdWords

You are referring to the AdWords blog, aren't you? I think if you say "details on the AdWords blog" everyone here knows where too look, ar at leats can find it rather easily.

And - yes - details ARE on the AdWords blog :-)


 1:45 pm on May 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

A note on the email addresses used: one was an address ONLY used for AdWords, and one was a personal address which I do NOT use for AdWords, but perhaps I did a long, long time ago. (I guess I've been doing the AdWords thing for 5 years now).

I'm one of those people who relies on Google to protect them from click fraud. I don't have the resources to do it myself. And whereas 1% isn't really worth the hassle, 10% certainly is.

Surely an equitable solution is to return a % of all the AdWords fees to the advertisers, rather than this complex solution?


 1:52 pm on May 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

<--Opting out and sending objections. Class action law is not intended to enrich the lawyer while hanging the class out to dry.

The settlement does not address the problem of click fraud. Any advertiser with the resources to prove click fraud was already able to provide that proof to Google and receive credits or, more likely, the advertiser considered the loss acceptable in the bigger picture of ROI.

How about a lawsuit that targets the actual people committing the fraud in the first place?


 3:43 pm on May 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Aside from deciding rather to opt out or not opt out, I wonder if advertisers are considering the options of what to do from both a morale and business standpoint from this time forward.

We all seem to agree, the lawsuit changes very little in our worlds.

Should we all continue to support a company that is so indifferent to it's customers? Should we keep our mouths shut and not complain too openly for fear of being blacklisted?

I've been a long time advertiser so it directly impacts my bottom line but I'm starting to wonder about my own morale decisions here. If I feel like I have to support an unethical business for financial gain do I continue to do so, knowing this?

It certainly doesn't feel good.

I realize the other search engines have similar troubles but from my own experience at least I get a rep. and a phone number to call - AND I've gotten results when I've complained to some of the other search engines.


 4:07 pm on May 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

click fraud is a human behavior problem that can be remedied with an engineering solution

One of the major concerns I have is that I am choosing to block non US with my ad campaigns but still get non-US IP addresses on my server logs from my PPC ads.

Google should automatically rebate me for any non US IP traffic because that is traffic coming from non-legitimate clicks.

Eventually we need to build some digital fences to protect advertisers. The first PPC company to do that will solve the problem and become more valuable to advertisers. Pareto applies here and once the sources of click fraud are truly exposed we will see that 80% of the fraud is coming from 20% of the IPs.


 6:09 pm on May 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

non-lawyer here, but here is what i believe to be true.

there are two types of class actions. opt-in and opt-out. for opt-in, you need to do just that to be apart of it. for opt-out, you're automatically in unless you request not to be. this is an opt-out.

so, the worst you could do here would be to not opt-out and not submit a claim. in that case, you are accepting being a member of the class and have agreed to forego all future claims for past activity and haven't even asked to get any money back.

if you don't want to be a part of it, opt out. if you are going to stay in, make sure you submit your claim for review, even though that review goes through the same process at google as any other claim you've previously unsuccesfully submitted. and if you don't think this settlement addresses the issue, object to it. if enough people object and point out their reasons, the judge might not approve it.


 6:28 pm on May 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

Participation in this class action settlement has absolutely nothing to do with supporting/not supporting Google. This settlement's only purpose (clearly) is to enrich the lawyers and plaintiff.


 7:10 pm on May 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

It's true the lawyers always make good on their settlements in these class action cases, and it doesn't seem fair, but that said, it's the way our system works and unless advertisers opt out and give the courts good reason why they're opting out, there is one certainty - nothing much will change.


 7:56 pm on May 22, 2006 (gmt 0)

I tried to stay away from this whole situation.. but I canīt.
Letīs say tha whole thing itīs real (any doubt about it?)and whether we like it or not, it does have some kind of legal consequences for the class in a nearby future.
This is like one of those things, where you find yoursefl involve in one of thoe absurde situation, without knownig how you got there.
So, what did I do wrong? that now I have to send a letter with my signature to ask a bunch of lawyers not to be part of something I did never ask to be part of. But.. if I do nothing, I will be loosing my legal right "to do something " in the future?
This is like if a bunch of lawyers filing a suit against a telephone company sent you a letter saying, If you donīt opt out now, you will loose your right to demand the phone company for those calls carged to you, but that you didnīt make.
This got to be a major "win-win" game, If this is true.. I have my doubts about who`s behind all these.

Once again.. the more a know about the human race, the more a love my dog.

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