Google sanctioned in advertising class action

Posted on: November 4th, 2014 by Steve Larson
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googleA federal judge sanctioned Google, Inc. for violating a court order to produce certain log files from its AdWords ad-placement service that are key to a proposed class action accusing Google of overcharging businesses that use its ad-placement service.  California U.S. District Judge Howard R. Lloyd said Google must pay lead plaintiff Rick Woods’ attorney fees and expenses related to his motion for sanctions, finding that the search company failed to heed a March court order to produce all of the necessary log files within 14 days. Although Google did eventually produce additional relevant logs, Judge Lloyd said its “minimal production” of data it felt was relevant violated his order.

The class action relates to Google’s AdWords service, which places ads on websites and then charges advertisers for each click.  The AdWords service contains a program by which prices are reduced for advertisers when data demonstrates that ads on certain sites are not producing real business results for advertisers.  The class action alleges that Google not only secretly overcharged the plaintiff and other advertisers for the service but also made “preferential secret deals” with large companies that host the ads, exempting them from rules that restrict an advertiser’s ability to put ads in low-quality positions, like on mobile apps.

The case is Rick Woods v. Google Inc., case number 5:11-cv-01263, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.