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Google Settles Adsense Publisher Lawsuit for $11M

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

While no internet user enjoys being click-baited, for some online advertisers (aka online publishers), their entire business model is based on generating those hard to get clicks by any means necessary.

For Google, which works hard to ensure its users receive relevant content (and advertisements) from their searches, combating click-bait is a high priority. Unfortunately for the search giant, in 2014, it was sued for a practice that allegedly unfairly punished bad publishers and unjustly enriched the Google coffers. Rather than continue to fight out the nitty-gritty allegations, last month Google settled these class claims for $11 million.

Google Did What?

It was alleged that Google had an internal policy of waiting until the end of an Adsense publisher's pay cycle before terminating their account for policy violations, such as click-fraud. Notably, when Google terminates a publisher for policy violations, the company does not pay out what was earned in the last pay cycle, even if part of the publisher's earnings were not based upon click-fraud or other policy violations.

Basically, by having a policy that waited until the end of the pay cycle to terminate, it allowed Google to allegedly retain even more of the revenue generated by serving the ads, despite there being a policy violation or pending account termination. And though the merits of the case had not been tried, the matter did survive dismissal. The court had found it notable that Google kept both the funds earned through proper and improper conduct. The settlement will pay back burned publishers between 30% to 100% of the withheld earnings.

Adsense Ad Nauseam

This settlement comes approximately one year after the last major multi-million dollar settlement stemming from Google Adsense's policies. Last year, Google paid out $22.5 million due to charging advertisers for placing ads on parked domains and error pages. That case covered advertisers with an Adsense account between 2004 and 2008 who were charged for clicks and ads appearing on parked domains and error pages.

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