Google’s AdWords advertising has come under fire in Australia, due to the practise of firms setting up adverts to ‘steal’ traffic from their competitors.
And for once, the search engine giant is being held responsible for the content that it shows to users.
The Australian Federal Court has overturned an earlier court case to rule that Google, and by extension any other online advertiser, is liable for what the court described as “misleading and deceptive” advertising.
The case centred on Google allowing firms and organisations to buy keywords and create adverts using rival’s names. The example given was of STA Travel, who bought adverts that showed up in Google searches for their competitors’ names, and included those names in the body copy of the purchased adverts.
Australian consumer watchdog ACCC (Australian Competition & Consumer Commission) viewed this as an attempt to deliberately mislead consumers into clicking through to a site they didn’t want, having searched for a specific brand, product or service.
The Federal Court finally ruled in ACCC’s favour, stating that these Google Ads would trick users into thinking “that there is an association or affiliation between the two [rival companies]” and that they’d be able to find information that wouldn’t be present on the advertised site.
This, crucially, has been taken to mean that Google misled and deceived the Australian public.
Google Australia are thought to be considering appealing to the Australian High Court, while AdWords customers might have to start rethinking their campaigns.
If you’re looking to run a Google AdWords or other pay per click campaign, call FirstFound now on 0161 909 3400.