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Google Sued Over Click Fraud

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the clicky-click dept.

Google 285

tanveer1979 writes "A seller of online marketing tools has sued Google over click fraud, accusing it of failing to protect clients from spurious clicks over web ads. The suit claims damages of $5 million and is seeking class action status. Sites get money per click from the advertisers. Rival companies of the advertiser may employ people to repeatedly click on the advertisers link on Google costing them large amount of money. Google denied the allegations. From the article: 'We believe the suit is without merit and we will defend ourselves against it vigorously.'" Interesting turnaround.

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Not much of a turnaround. (4, Interesting)

Sebastian Jansson (823395) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949364)

Google sues people for click inflating, for the sake of their customers.

Google's customer sues Google for not doing enough.

Re:Not much of a turnaround. (2, Interesting)

PhilippeT (697931) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949387)

When has a customer ever thought a company did "enough" for them?

But Supreme Court has already ruled against Google (1)

VernonNemitz (581327) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949484)

Because it offers something that can be misused, of course, like P2P software.

Re:Not much of a turnaround. (5, Insightful)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949429)

No, no, no ;-) TFA points out they are being sued by Click Defense Inc. They are not a customer or a client. They sell software designed to prevent click fraud!

Click Defense Inc's business plan:
1. Build software which may or may not prevent click fraud
2.Approach Google about using said software.
3.Google says no thanks.
4.Sue Google for not buying your product (I mean protecting customers)
8.Burn in hell for being a scum sucking ass-clown

Re:Not much of a turnaround. (1)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949450)

Correction. Click Defense Inc does advertise on Google so they are a customer I guess. However, I have a feeling they only advertise their to give some legitimacy to the above business plan!!!

Re:Not much of a turnaround. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12949621)

My info page is filling up with rejected posts. How can I purge these?
Call yourself "Roland Piquepaille" and you'll never have another rejected story.

Re:Not much of a turnaround. (5, Funny)

haagmm (859285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949478)

You could say go to google. google Click Fraud and click "Click Defense"'s add on the right hand side 10-20 times just for added good mesure :p

Re:Not much of a turnaround. (1)

datadriven (699893) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949514)

That could be the most expensive slashdotting in history

Re:Not much of a turnaround. (-1)

CockblockTheVote (849450) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949525)

so what are we waiting for?

Re:Not much of a turnaround. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12949622)

Who is this "we" you speak of?

Re:Not much of a turnaround. (1)

RealityMogul (663835) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949521)

I would personally recommend doing a search for 'Click Fraud Defense Click OR Fraud OR Defense OR Assholes' and then clicking on the Click Defense link just so something appropriate shows up in their keyword tracking.

Re:Not much of a turnaround. (4, Informative)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949601)

I like the idea, but it might give them more ammunition in the court case. Instead it seems Click Defense has a 877 number (same as 800 meaning they pay for the phone call). The number is: 877-872-5772. Feel free to just give them a call and ask about the lawsuit or whatever. I wonder if they'll sue the telcos for not screening real customers from the 877 number ;-)

Re:Not much of a turnaround. (3, Funny)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949618)

Wonder if a telephone number has ever been /.ed before ;-)

Re:Not much of a turnaround. (5, Insightful)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949440)

Let's say you are a company. And you hire someone to do marketing- maybe hand out expensive brochures and free samples.

Well, your competitor keeps going back to the booth and taking your brochure and free samples. Then he throws them away, and goes back for more.

Do you sue the person you hired to work at the booth? figure out a better way to do it...or you fire the person at the booth and hire a big beefy guy who will make sure it is '1 per customer.' (Yet, he scares away all of the customers)

You know the business model going can you sue?

Hmmmmm.... (1)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949366)

How many people have had problems involving click fraud?

Re:Hmmmmm.... (1)

hostyle (773991) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949404)

I searched for "arachnid political movements", clicked on "I'm Feeling Lucky" and ended up at the Pepperdine University Catalog HISTORY COURSES. Surely thats fraudulent? I feel cheated.

Re:Hmmmmm.... (3, Interesting)

uioreanu (554486) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949480)

google does not employ any click patterns analysis, and fraud you have to both expect, plan, pay for, and fight against; mostly by yourself.

I had a one week adwords saga [] . The bottom line was that if fraud exists, and the claim is right they do react, but one has to act on it, not wait for the PPC carrier to discover it.

Then since this core flaw exists, great media-opportunist companies appear and sue google in order to gain media exposure. this kind of news should become no news soon enough!

Re:Hmmmmm.... (4, Interesting)

qodfathr (255387) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949609)

I've been a vicitim of click fraud more than once. Sometimes, Google sees it and sends me a credit. (And by that I mean I did not notice it or report it -- they told me; that was early on in my advertising days, however.)

I have not had an automatic credit like that in a very long time, but my logs are indicative of click fraud. You can write to Google and get a credit, but, for some ad campaigns, it's just not worth it -- well over 90% of the clicks can be fraudulent. The time invested to keep getting credits may out weigh the value of the campaign. YMMV.

Deep Pockets (3, Interesting)

Nick Driver (238034) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949367)

Since Google now has pretty deep pockets, you can expect an endless stream of all kinds of wierd-ass lawsuits filed against them.

Re:Deep Pockets (1)

RevWhite (889559) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949383)

Definitely a weird-ass suit. I want to know if this is a genuine problem or just another buzzword that somebody made up to make a lawsuit about.

Re:Deep Pockets (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12949472)

Google for "please click the ads". That's just one form of click fraud which harms advertisers. If you paid money for clicks of which a non-negligible percentage was fraudulent, would you still call it a "wierd-ass lawsuit"?

Re:Deep Pockets (1)

ghislain_leblanc (450723) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949589)

Sadly, being Google is not enough to classify a lawsuit agaisnt you as "weird-ass" in a court of law, unless proposition 42B is passed, which we all hope!

Re:Deep Pockets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12949619)

Yup, just like Microsoft was sued-by-proxy after much lobbying to state and federal attorneys-general by sorry-ass competitors who didn't know how to compete in the marketplace.

wait... (3, Insightful)

tiberiandusk (894649) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949373)

wasn't there an article a while ago about how google was trying to stop this since they were losing a ton of money to fake clicks? i think every online advertising company in the world has been working on this problem for a long time. suing them won't fix the problem but it will get all those lawyers a lot of money.

Re:wait... (3, Informative)

surprise_audit (575743) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949508)

Yeah. That was what was being referred to in the Interesting turnaround link right at the end of the summary....

Not google's fault (5, Insightful)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949374)

They don't have to sued Google over this, but the people commiting click fraud... I mean, they sign a contract in which they agree to pay for each click, it's never mentionned that Google will ensure that all clicks are legits... I don't think they have the slightest chance to make a point in court. Now Google could prrobably provide protection, but they won't have to. Eventually, protection (unique clicks, time spent on site etc) will arise with competition on ad placement as a required service.

Re:Not google's fault (1)

metalmaniac1759 (600176) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949407)

True - they'll probably lose in court. But Google will get a *lot* of bad publicity and it might end up hurting the major source of revenue of the company we so dearly love!


Re:Not google's fault (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12949437)

This isn't about getting money out of Google, this is about advertising their Click Defense service.

Unless the advertiser comes out ahead in court (1)

blcss (886739) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949494)

then clickdefense is worthless.

whatty what now? (1)

jasongetsdown (890117) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949468)

whoa, back up a minute. Click fraud? How does this work?

The Irony of the Answer... (1)

BioCS.Nerd (847372) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949531)

I'm not sure how the revenue stream works, but basically legions of people are hired to click ads. Sounds silly doesn't it? However, AFAIK, the website the ad is displayed on gets paid a certain amount, as does Google, by the company paying for the ad to be put on Google's service. Hence the lawsuit.

With my friend Google (Google [] , meet jasongetsdown. jasongetsdown, meet Google [] ), I was able to find some links that may help you understand the situation [] better, including TFA [] we're talking about in the first place :-P

Re:Not google's fault (2, Interesting)

bedroll (806612) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949495)

They do have to sue Google. Google is their vendor. Their alternative to suing Google would be to file a suit against an unknown - or if they suspect a specific company they could name them, but I doubt that's the case - company and subpoena Google for their advertising business's records. It's much more likely to be a longer and more expensive case that way, though.

What they want is this: Google actively monitor's for click fraud. Google sues company X for click fraud. Company Y sues Google for similar damages to what Google got from Company X.

See, they don't really want an end to click fraud. They just want a share of the click fraud profits.

Re:Not google's fault (1)

eldawg (769959) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949496)

I mean, they sign a contract in which they agree to pay for each click, it's never mentionned that Google will ensure that all clicks are legits...

I haven't looked at the contract/TOS, but that certainly doesn't seem to be a good long term way of keeping customers happy and making profits. As a matter of fact, Google says that it will credit customers for invalid clicks:

How will Google credit my account for invalid clicks?

Google constantly monitors for, and strictly prohibits, invalid click activity. We work hard to maintain the integrity of our advertising program and to make sure you're being billed for legitimate clicks on your ads. If we discover that you've been charged for invalid clicks in the past two months, we'll apply credits to your account.

You'll find any credits, including credits for invalid clicks, in your billing summary as a line item labeled Adjustment. Please note that other types of credits, such as promotional credits, may also fall under the Adjustment line item. nswer=6426&ctx=en:search&query=fraud&topic=0&type= f []

The question now is probably if they are doing enough to prevent and detect invalid clicks and if they are following up with their own policies of refunds.

Previous suit will help... (4, Interesting)

jdreed1024 (443938) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949380)

Interesting turnaround.

Not really. Google sued people who were artificially inflating their clicks. Now, someone is saying Google does nothing about click inflation. Who knows the specific of this individual case, but clearly Google has done *something* about click inflation.

what exactly google does to stop fraud? (3, Interesting)

cytopia (891088) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949385)

Does anyone know how does google check for "fake" clicks?

Re:what exactly google does to stop fraud? (4, Insightful)

-brazil- (111867) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949420)

I doubt they're telling anyone, since it would be easier for the fraudsters to circumvent the checks if they knew the exact method.

The obvious measure would be statistical analysis to see whether some IP addresses are generating an excessive amount of clicks, especially on the same ads.

Re:what exactly google does to stop fraud? (1)

Cat_Byte (621676) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949459)

Probably but using the 95th percentile like some ISPs do to not charge for temporary spikes in bandwidth would knock out the 5% or less fake IP sources. Just don't count the top 5% IP sources. If they are legit they wouldn't be clicking on a banner that many times anyway. The 5% could be tweaked so nobody wig over it being too high ;)

Re:what exactly google does to stop fraud? (2, Interesting)

cytopia (891088) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949464)

somebody that has access to a large range of IPs could overcome an IP to Ad check I wonder whether they take into account clicks coming from same subnets/networks

Re:what exactly google does to stop fraud? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12949563)

My own experience is that (/me clicks Post Anonymously) they're doing more than basic checks.
We were proxy-clicking quite a bit, ending up with checks of roughly $2k per month.
We did everything we could to keep a steady growth-rate (eg. only slightly-higher click-through ratio per day or week), traffic increased at the same rate as the click-through ratio, never used the same proxy twice, changed our browsing-habbits (eg. spend different amount of time on a page depending on the type of ad etc).

They busted us after roughly 6 months.

-jurgen langeschnapp

Re:what exactly google does to stop fraud? (2, Interesting)

surprise_audit (575743) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949573)

Somebody with access to a large collection of zombie PCs wouldn't even all be coming from the same subnets/networks.

I'd imagine that one trick to combat such would be to "rate" the attractiveness of the ad - i.e. Google staff acting as an "average Joe" looking at the ad and estimating how attractive it is as a guide to how often they'd expect it to be clicked. Any ad getting *much* higher traffic should be looked at more closely to see if: a) they underestimated it; b) it's a "click fraud" target.

Re:what exactly google does to stop fraud? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949499)

AFAIK the only limit is 2 clicks per IP address per day, how exactly this is implemented, I do not know.

They'll probably have some other stuff too, such as warnings when a specific add is getting an unexpected amount of hits within a certain time period or other such statistical markers, but this is just guessing.

Re:what exactly google does to stop fraud? (1, Interesting)

AccUser (191555) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949515)

Does anyone know how does google check for "fake" clicks?

When you click on a sponsored link, Google spawns a Russian Cracker to monitor your browsing activity for the rest of the day. If you fail to follow up your click with the appropriate purchase, the Russian Cracker is authorised to take over your identity, and do it for you.

Re:what exactly google does to stop fraud? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12949516)

Why, are you trying to commit fraud?

Want a roadmap?

Re:what exactly google does to stop fraud? (1)

hrieke (126185) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949591)

Fairly hard problem to solve, but here's how I'd take a crack at it:
  • Look at subnets and IP ranges. Fairly simple one.
  • Look at click rates.
  • Look at keyword rates.
  • Look at search depth (front page vs 5 pages in).
  • I'd also have a few labs setup with infected PCs to see if there is anything going on by virus / hacked machines by monitoring all communications.

It's a funny old world, innit (2, Informative)

Willeh (768540) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949394)

Lemme get this straight, a maker of software that detects click fraud is sueing google for click fraud? This is either gonna make or break them, all off google's back. Looks like Google has got a hell of a hard time ahead, sitting on fat cash like they do.

Otoh, this'll be even worse for google if Click defense manages to score a win in the courts.

Sneaky (3, Insightful)

QMO (836285) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949442)

This is a publicity stunt.
Click Defense is suing Google to get people to think about click fraud, so they'll buy software from Click Defense to save themselves.

Re:It's a funny old world, innit (5, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949582)

I think the company in question, ClickDefense [] must not be doing very well, and is using this as a last-resort money-grab to stay alive (wild speculation, I know!). Why do I say this? Well, it seems like corporate suicide for a company to admit that their product doesn't work at all. They are a company that sells click-fraud detection tools, so that other companies can prevent click-fraud and thereby increase their return-on-investment for all those advertising dollars.

But if their product works properly, then they should be properly protected, and they wouldn't need to complain to Google that they are getting ripped off. They would just use this technology on themselves, and figure out a way to prevent this fraud (and then sell the technique to others of course). Part of this 'technique' might just be to accurately determine which advertising-supplier has the lowest fraud-rates, etc. But by telling google that they are getting frauded, they are basically admiting their system doesn't work.

Of course, they will claim that they are using their technology to detect the fraud occuring on google's ads... this is, after all, the very point of their product, right? Then other people will buy their product. But 'going public' in this way doesn't make sense. If google cleans up their act in a public and verifiable way, then ClickDefense's product becomes irrelevant. Basically companies won't buy their product/services, because they will be happy knowing that Google is taking care of the situation. They don't need to pay ClickDefense for special knowledge about click-fraud: ClickDefense appears to be making this information public!

If this is a publicity stunt, I think it is a bad one. Frankly it makes ClickDefense's product and services appear rather pointless. I question the long-term viability of this company!

Failing to prevent? (4, Informative)

zensufi (743379) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949397)

In other news, Sears is being sued for failing to conduct background checks on the purchasers of air conditioners. It seems foreign assassins have been dropping them out of windows and killing unsuspecting Americans.

Failing to prevent? I mean, come on. This only makes sense if Google signed a contract with the advertisers saying they would implement measures to prevent this.

Re:Failing to prevent? (1, Funny)

droptone (798379) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949436)

Why do you hate America?

Re:Failing to prevent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12949524)

Nothing wrong with America, it's a lovely country. It's Americans I hate.

Re:Failing to prevent? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12949604)

Because of you, you fat bastard!

Re:Failing to prevent? (1, Offtopic)

surprise_audit (575743) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949620)

Does Sears actually do any business in a country more sue-happy than America?? Come to think of it, *is* there a country more sue-happy than America??

Re:Failing to prevent? (1)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949594)

So basically this guy is suing google because they are not doing enough to stop him breaking the law.
And to sell his software

1-800 (4, Insightful)

Matt Clare (692178) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949398)

I hope this company doesn't have a 1-800 number:

"Ma' Bell didn't tell all the callers that they could only dial our number if they were going to buy something".

Re:1-800 (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12949603)

Yup: 1-877-872-5772 []

Umm What more can Google do? (2, Insightful)

cranos (592602) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949402)

Im just trying to think what google could do beyond some of the obvious - Ignoring multiple clicks from same IP on same ad target.

Any system is going to involve an element of fraud if there are human beings involved.

Re:Umm What more can Google do? (1)

Marc2k (221814) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949551)

That's actually a pretty good point. In today's Web medium, there's a not-so-fine line between "advertising" and "bombardment", and it's pretty obvious now, after even grandmothers are talking about pop-up blockers, that a successful Web ad campaign should be pervasive, but without being plastered to every page that a person in my demographic is likely to view.

That being said, as a consumer, I'm actually _less_ likely to click on an ad for a product that I'm not necessarily in awe of, but is still cluttering up my daily routine. So IMO, it really _does_ make sense to only register one hit per IP*, as if I'm planning on buying a product, I'm not likely to click on the same ad from the same source 8 times in a few minutes.

* Simple IP logging obviously doesn't take into account NAT, but hey.

Re:Umm What more can Google do? (1)

spockvariant (881611) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949567)

Well, the obvious solution should be an analog of what they do for spam filtering: decide on a set of "features" of "spam clicks" - like time intervals between them if they come from the same IP address (since it might correspond to many machines behind a NAT), the credibility of the originating network etc. and then use a pattern classifer (like a Bayesian classifier, or a fuzzy classifier) to generate a likeliness of spam.

What should make (IMHO) click-spam filtering less of a hassle to implement is the smaller penalty of failure. If a spam filter wrongly classifies legitimate mail as spam, it may cause the recipient a lot of inconvenience. However, if a click-spam filter wrongly identifies a click as spam, it would not prevent the navigator from getting on the site or buying the advertiser's products. It would mean that the advertiser's account would not get debited for the click. So all advertisers will get a bonus of x% in the number of clicks they get for their cash - some more and some less - but no big deal.

LWP and Perl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12949414)

About 10 lines of code and your all set to wreck your competitors bottom line

Why sue Google over this? (1)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949415)

Why sue Google over this? I mean, they aren't doing anything that is against the law, are they? Go after the people that are spam-clicking your links! If you can't do that, there's still no reason to sue Google. I think that's like trying to sue your cell phone company for spam txt messages that you recieve (that you have to pay for). Those cost me money...but having Verizon pay for those spam messages for a month is not going to get them to stop.

Re:Why sue Google over this? (1)

saider (177166) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949502)

The problem is that Google is collecting money for this activity. The only way I can see for the plaintiff to have a case is if they documented the abuse by logging IP information and showed that Google was unwilling to offer a partial refund on the false clicks. Other than that, it looks like a 'tough luck' for the plaintiff.

Re:Why sue Google over this? (1)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949517)

Yes, but Verizon is making money on my text messages.

Also, Google does do thing to discourage this type of thing. I believe they do make each click that's from an IP that has clicked a link before cost isn't like they are ENCOURAGING it or anything. Like you said, though, it's tough luck for the plantiff.

Re:Why sue Google over this? (2, Informative)

m50d (797211) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949588)

Google is charging them for all the fake clicks they got. That's why they're complaining.

Wrong defendant? (0, Redundant)

jasonmicron (807603) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949416)

So if it were other companies doing this wouldn't it be more prudent to instead sue the other companies?

I really don't see how this is Google's fault. Then again, I don't really care.

Re:Wrong defendant? (2, Insightful)

cranos (592602) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949428)

Follow the money. Google has the most money, therefore they are the best target to go for.

I'm confused... (5, Insightful)

AnObfuscator (812343) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949426)

ok, so based on the second link to the previous slashdot story ( 927212&tid=123 [] ), doesn't that prove in Google's favor that Google *is* taking click fraud seriously? Thus, doesn't that conclusively demonstrate in Google's favor that "Click Defense Inc." is just wrong?

And their main product [] is to prevent, you guessed it, Click Fraud. Hmmmm, a few minutes ago I didn't know that such a product existed, but now that they've sued google, I do. double hmmmm hmmmm.

Some Executive somewhere: "Google is getting sued because they don't protect us from 'Click Fraud', whatever that is! that could cost us lots of money! What can I do to protect myself? Let me ask Google. Oh, look who is on the sponsored links, Oh, their product saves me! yay!"

I smell a large omnivorous rodent of the genus Rattus [] ...

Re:I'm confused... (1)

kawika (87069) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949615)

Both Google and Click Defense (RTFA) probably use a combination of IP addresses, cookies, time frames, and click patterns to guess whether the clicks are fraudulent or not. This dispute is probably over the gray areas.

There's no doubt that someone clicking a dozen times on the same ad over the period of an hour should be backed out. But if a user clicks once on a particular ad today, then does it tomorrow, and the next day, is that click fraud? Google could argue no, the user is just looking to see if the offer changes or taking some time to make up their mind. The merchant or Click Defense might argue the other way.

AFAICT, both the Google and Click Defense techniques do nothing to stop "click laundering" where the click is automatically generated by a trojan or spyware. Imagine a botnet of 100K PCs that run click laundering software. They attack certain advertisers by automatically "clicking" on their ads. This drains the victims Adwords account to zero and makes the keyword available to other advertisers, often belonging to the attacker. But there is no pattern, and only one click per computer, so how do you prove fraud or even stop it?

Another variation on click laundering is to set up a web site that has Adwords on it. Then have the trojan-infected PCs "click" on the Adwords ads on that site, or create ads that display off the site (in spyware popups for example) that will get clicks. There was a movie floating around on the P2P networks that displayed Google ads [] as part of the DRM license process!

Instant Publicity (-1, Offtopic)

LightSail (682738) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949427)

What an inexpensive way to advertise your product.

Proof of Fraud on Google's Own Website!!! (5, Funny)

Zemplar (764598) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949445)

Re:Proof of Fraud on Google's Own Website!!! (0, Redundant)

RootsLINUX (854452) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949474)

I for one, welcome our new pigeon clicking overlords... >_>

IMHO (3, Insightful)

Darth Maul (19860) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949447)

In my humble opinion, any lawsuit that has the words "failing to protect" in its description is automatically bunk.

Re:IMHO (1)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949529)

I donno about that. A door knob that advertises security but fails to protect against someone turning it and opening the door, even while locked, is pretty valid. That's pretty gross negligence on that company's part, though.

Right! Otherwise M$ would be history. (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949571)

This is a bunch of legal fees piling up. (Like SCO) Nobody's gonna get rich or right but the lawyers are gonna bill their clients per hour anyway.

(Actually I wonder how many lawsuits are started by lawyers when they can find a gulible sucker?)

Re:IMHO (1)

pintomp3 (882811) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949612)

kinda like the ones against p2p companies?

Re:IMHO (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949636)

In my humble opinion, any lawsuit that has the words "failing to protect" in its description is automatically bunk.

That's not always true. If you run a mall, a train station, or some other place that's open to the public and you have a wooden deck you don't keep maintained such that one of the boards rots and someone breaks an ankle falling through -- you had a legitimate duty to protect the public from reasonably forseeable safety hazards, and you're going to get to pay medical bills (and then some, maybe, if you knew about the problem and didn't do anything).

In this case, though, I'm inclined to agree with you.

Hmmm.... if my advertising is costing me money... (4, Insightful)

utmslave (179598) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949462)

I change my advertising methods. If you bought a full page in the New York Times for advertisement and didn't see an increase in business that coincided with the amount you spent (assume that a rival company with deep pockets purchased about 100,000 subscriptions to the Times to inflate the ad placement cost), you would change your ad placement strategy. This is no different. If you want to sue someone, you need to sue the end-clicker that is causing the inflated ad cost or find another marketing plan.

.sigs cause cancer!

CPM? (1)

L0phtpDK (711021) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949486)

Why couldn't Google go with a CPM (cost per thousand) campaign instead? This would limit the "hackers" (as the article labels them) a bit... Because if I do recall, doesn't AdSense rotate ads when there is not enough space to display them all in its area? Wouldn't Google come out ahead in this two-fold?

Terms of Service (2, Interesting)

robbway (200983) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949488)

Perhaps they should read Google's TOS that prevents their liability for damages of any kind. Plus, if a company pays people to click their ads, they're the one committing the fraud and the only losers are the company itself and the IRS.

The company is a loser because they paid money for an ad that no one but their own people see. They could have saved money by not purchasing the ad to begin with. The IRS loses taxes because the company is providing service to Google, and then from Google to itself, meaning about half of the transaction taxes evaporate.

Re:Terms of Service (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949557)

The company is a loser because they paid money for an ad that no one but their own people see.

It's worse than that, see. Let's say you hire people to click on your competitor's ads without buying their product -- and that these ads are on a website you own, so you get paid when folks click on them! You're draining your competitor's advertising budget, and enriching yourself.

Re:Terms of Service (2, Informative)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949595)


It's about people working for companies that click on banner adds of their COMPETITORS. You can do the rest of the math yourself.

Not that it matters much, the whole case is pretty much moot anyway.

Re:Terms of Service (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12949600)

Why is this post moderated insightful?

if a company pays people to click their ads, they're the one committing the fraud and the only losers are the company itself and the IRS. The company is a loser because they paid money for an ad that no one but their own people see.

Do you realize that you've just publicly admitted that you don't understand the problem?

Let's review
Company A buys adspace from Google
Company B competes with company A (whether or not they buy ad space is irrelevant)
Company B, through its employees or agents, pays people to commit click fraud against company A, exhausting its ad budget and bringing a "premature" end to their ads

If, including click fraud expenses, company B has sales in excess of what they would have had with company A's ads running, this is rational economic behavior.

Company A buys adspace from Google
Company C hosts Google ads for a cut of the ad sales
Company C, through its employees or agents, pays people to commit click fraud against company A, exhausting its ad budget and bringing a "premature" end to their ads (also accuring a nice commission for itself)

If Company C makes revenue in excess of the click fraud expense, this is also rational economic behavior.

In either case, company A gets screwed. "Click Defense" is a putative company A, although they also sell click fraud prevention software so their claims are highly suspect.

One way to advertise... (1)

AccUser (191555) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949490)

Marketeer #1: "We can't advertise new click fraud defense product on Google, it will cost us a fortune in click fraud."
Marketeer #2: "Let's sue then. The case has no merit, but it will be cheaper than advertising on Google."

I don't get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12949491)

1) It's ads by auction.
2) Advertiser tracks clicks/sale via googls ads and determines value of clicks.
3) Advertiser adjusts bid accordingly.

Rocket science, it ain't...

Any advertiser who doesn't track advertising ROI is an idiot and will eventually get his ass squeezed out of the market.

That said, one might come up with an algorithm to track trends for detection of gross increases in clicks that are not accompanied by corresponding increases in sales, research the origin of the extra clicks, and via pre-ordained contractual arrangement, apply a weighting factor to the $ pais per click.

TOS problems (5, Insightful)

frostman (302143) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949493)

I'm not convinced Google is trying as hard as it should to combat click fraud, and I know how awful their customer service is, but...

When you sign up for AdSense or AdWords, you do agree to their terms of service, including things like (paraphrasing here):

  • They pay you whatever they think is fair.
  • If they suspect fraud, they do whatever they like (including not paying you); if you suspect fraud, they'll "work with you" to investigate it.
  • On AdWords, you pay for whatever clicks they say you got.
  • On AdSense, they pay you for whatever clicks they say you got.
  • On AdSense, they can advertise their products on your site as much as they want, for free.
  • Their records are authoratitive (though largely secret), yours are corruptible (though possibly interesting).
  • Evil/fraud is what Sergey says is evil/fraud.
  • All your base yada yada...

Seriously, Google ads have some great advantages on both sides, but if you go down that path you should not bet more money than you can easily afford to lose. You've basically agreed up front that they're always right - and yeah, maybe you can challenge that in court, but don't forget they have twenty lawyers for every click-fraud investigator. :-)

Two years down the line (1)

AviLazar (741826) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949519)

"Advertising companies rejoice as they win the Google Click Fraud lawsuit. Each class-action claimant gets $2; while the law firm who prosecuted this case gets $2.5 million"

Not fraud (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949522)

I click something once, I might click it a thousand times.
I might buy something, I might not.

I am going to make damn sure I watch the adverts carefully from now on, and I'm going to click on every single one from this click fraud company.

I am going to maliciously, and with intent click links on a website multiple times!

Let them try and stop me.

This should not be googles' fault, and google are not to blame for this.

If the advertiser on the other end doesn't like how many people are tramping through their shop and using all their bandwidth without actually purchasing anything, then they should employ their own security guard.

Stop shopoting the messenger so to speak.

Yeah, but (-1)

ChrisJones (23624) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949542)

screw google!

interesting turnout (1)

srikrishnak (893435) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949546) way of attacking the rivals...but I dont understand how google can be responcible for this... anyway its quite a good idea..

Ok This is Just Plain Stupid To Me? (1)

Evil W1zard (832703) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949553)

Ok first off the company has no right to sue Google for said amount unless it can demonstrate the metrics to prove that it has had to pay Google approx. $5 million for "click fraud (of course that would mean that they have paid Google much more than that because not all clicks on their ads would be fraudulent...) Now that being said if the Company is just suing Google on the premise that it doesn't actively fight against click fraud vs actual damages it has occurred then that is just BS and they should counter-sue. This looks to me like a "didn't use our product" lawsuit and that is ridiculous.

On another note the definition of click fraud that I got from TFA seems to be that I click on an Ad but don't have intent on buying what is being advertised? So what I watch commercials just cuz they are funny sometimes or I click on an ad to see what it is but not necessarily buy... Any definition of click fraud should certainly contain wording to described use of automated tools that go out and actively click on ads without user interaction because that is where the real problem lies now doesn't it. Anyway bit of a rant because frivolous lawsuits tick me off.

Re:Ok This is Just Plain Stupid To Me? (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949590)

Two sides to this

1. People ought to have fully understood what they were getting into.

2. Google should protect people from rampant clickage.

If an ad would normally get 1 click/day and all of a sudden got 200 or 200,000/day then you can say "wtf?".

That being said most ads on google are tripe anyways. "Blowfish EncRyptor" my ass...


I don't know... (1)

Shads (4567) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949554)

... if this suit has merit, but there is alot of click fraud that happens on google. It's been a long standing problem. Shrug.

Fake Chicks (2, Funny)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949555)

I'm far more concerned about Fake Chicks that come up using Google Image search. Maybe we should sue.

I am safe from click fraud (3, Funny)

Georules (655379) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949556)

with my Visa CapitalOne Check Card. It's in my wallet.

Restitution unrealistic... (2, Interesting)

iNToIT (896379) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949570)

..because all Google has to claim is that they take click fraud into account in their pricing.

If the customer is already benefitting from reduced rates to compensate for a known issue, I don't see how a court could fairly award the complaintant.

If googles customers want to pursue this, they will just force advertising rates higher, screwing no one but themselves. Especially, since google is under no onus of having to provide the same rates to all customers. They can impliment a "variable fee" for the perceived threat of potential litigation from their customers, on a per customer basis.
Irregardless of "fairness", this is justifiable.

If banks can get away with it on loans, by "examining the history and circumstances" of businesses and individuals they do business with, then so can google.

Got extortion? (5, Funny)

raitchison (734047) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949586)

This seems like a rather obvious case of extortion if you ask me. I can picture the "negotiations" now.

Click Defense: Buy our software

Google: No thanks, we're good

Click Defense: Buy it or we'll file a lawsuit and make lots of public statements saying you are allowing your customers to be ripped off (reminding them that people beleive anything they read on the IntArweb)

Google: Pack Sand

Click Defense: You'll regret this, it'll now cost you 10x as much as our shitty software

Why don't we hold companies and individuals criminally resposible for this kinds of abuse of the legal system?

Judas Priest! (1)

Cross-Threaded (893172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949608)


I'm sorry, but this whole pay-per-click model has got to be the dumbest idea anyone has ever come up with.

How can this accurately measure any sort of statistic?

The fact that anyone relies on this method of income seems ludicrous, if not, INSANE.

Even more galling to me, is that they are now spending our tax dollars in court pointing fingers at other companies, trying to place blame for their own flawed busines model.

Yes, the Internet is a big marketplace. The sheer number of web-surfers darn near guarantees that if you can get people to a web-site, some will buy your product (unless it is completely worthless). But, come on! Pay-per-click makes almost no logical sense to me. Click-Fraud? Give me a break...

This whole model just makes me want to write a spider routine that loads pages in the background and click on every ad link it encounters, just to emphasize to these dorks, by skewing their data, that their pay-per-click model is really dumb.

Who's at fault? (1)

digidave (259925) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949611)

If some company employs people to artificially increase costs for their competitor, why aren't they the ones being sued?

Free advertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12949624)

The company (who doesn't need to be named again) is getting lots of free advertising out of this nonsense.

Kind of reminds me of the new SCO suing the universe and spreading FUD. The suit isn't about any real damage to the plaintiff. It's about publicity.

I tried to give them some solutions (2, Insightful)

tod_miller (792541) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949629)

But they didn't seem to want to rock the boat of their solution.

I once asked them, if I click 5 times on an ad, does that get charged 5 times? They said they couldn't say. All they have to do is stop charging someone for the same IP in the same day lets say.

Sure, they would loose 15-20% (guesstimate) of clicks right? But wouldn't the service be better value therefore people would spend more?

Thats all folks.

I know Google has an $80 billion market cap... (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 9 years ago | (#12949639)

...but come on! Why not sue your competitors directly for click-spamming, and put them out of business? Or could it be that your business is going nowhere because you're inept at running it, and you just want a free $5 million so you can close up shop?

Maybe this was a publicity stunt, seeing as how all of the data you plan to present at trial is ostensibly derived from your own product, and you don't expect to win (except by perhaps being bought out by someone).

Or maybe this was a scam from the start, and you don't actually sell anything in the first place.

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