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A set of plaintiffs in a class-action suit argued Monday that Google (GOOG) has not exercised reasonable care to prevent "click fraud" and has misrepresented efforts to stop swindlers from repeatedly clicking website links to drive up advertising costs.
The arguments came as an Arkansas judge considers whether to accept a $90 million settlement offer from Google. A Texarkana company — Lane's Gifts and Collectibles — filed the lawsuit, which Miller County Circuit Judge Joe Griffin certified as a class action.
Some Plaintiffs Fight Google Settlement [usatoday.com]
a $90 million settlement
I don't know all the details but that is a ridiculously low settlement for a revenue stream that makes them billions.
If they seriously think that off a 1 billion advertising revenue (for sayings sake) less than 10% is click fraud they have got be taking us all for a fool. Click fraud has to be 20% minimum - and that's year on year on the real turnover!
I know I have accidently clicked on ads that I have no intention of clicking on usually, as they are 'hidden' in text or placed within text in such a way that an accidental click is inevitable - especially now that ad belnding is becoming more important - see Google Q2 profits [webmasterworld.com]
Among the important details is that the amount of a class action settlement hinges upon the strength of the case in question, not simply on what the contested amount of damages might be. Google's stance is that large amounts of unchecked click fraud would not be proven at trial. The fact is that no one knows how much click fraud there is, and it's not likely that a concrete number could ever be determined. That lowers the bar.
They also point out that they are not contractually liable to compensate for every incident of click fraud that slips past their efforts to combat it, because advertisers have each made an agreement with Google that the company needs only to make "a reasonable effort" to combat the problem. Basically, Google never has guaranteed that they'd prevent it all; the class members agreed to that lowered expectation when they entered the program.
In fact, they don't have to prove anything. They only have to "certify" that they believe they were affected, and state the percentage of their total spending that was on keywords which they believe were affected.
As to whether that was a "typical" objection, Google's response states that "a few" objectors raised that point. It also says that eight of the 51 objections were only over the percentage of the settlement that would go to the lawyers for the plaintiffs, one objected that Google shouldn't be liable at all, and three because they think the case shouldn't qualify as a class action.
It doesn't really appear that there is a "typical objection."
Interesting. The objectors, if the one example given is typical, seem to be objecting that they shouldn't have to prove that they have experienced click fraud. But if they don't, the whole basis of our legal system falls down. The American justice system runs on proof, not accusation or innuendo or unsupported assertions ("I spent $27,000 on advertising and didn't get many clients, so there must have been click fraud!").
The expert's findings noted a period of time within which doubly-clicked ads were charged for. As the policy was changed not to charge for doubly-clicked ads sometime in 2005, it's possible that some of the plaintiffs are entitled to a refund if they can show that they received doubly clicked ads during the time period in question.
Fix your damn search results and then move on to something else. Stop releasing crappy beta products to get in the news, it is no longer helping your stock price when everyone now realizes you can't make money off of anything except AdWords/AdSense.