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Google Advertising The Courts Technology

Google Sues Dodgy Advertisers 71

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-said-don't-be-evil dept.
angry tapir writes "Google is at its wit's end dealing with illegal sellers of prescription drugs that market medicines on its ad network, so it has decided to take some of these allegedly rogue advertisers to court. Rogue prescription drug sellers have increased in number and become more sophisticated in their dealings, and 'a small percentage' of them have been able to dodge Google's efforts to block them from running ads on its network, according to the company."
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Google Sues Dodgy Advertisers

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  • Wait... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @08:00AM (#33673862)
    How do I order?
    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday September 23, 2010 @08:09AM (#33673908) Journal

      How do I order?

      Talk to Dr. William E. Morrow of Layton, Utah who signed for thousands of prescriptions [cnn.com] that two of Kyle Rootsaert's pharmacies filled. From that article:

      CNN's Special Investigations Unit first examined Rootsaert and Roots Pharmacy, the company he owns in American Fork, in 2008. CNN Correspondent Drew Griffin ordered the antidepressant Prozac over the internet without a doctor's prescription, and the pills were delivered by overnight express the following day.

      The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and FBI are very very interested in all of this and as the article notes, Google is quick to show they're on the government's side regarding these pharmacies. Google faces very low risk (alleging breach of AdWords contracts allowing others to back out of contracts) while reducing its liability exposure by way of this lawsuit if any of the 49 "John Doe" owned sites face criminal investigation.

  • google ads (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jumpinp (1144189)
    Google's ads have been pointless for a long time. I don't understand how they make as much revenue as they do with ads that no one, or at least not anyone I know clicking on them. The ads are mostly spam and scams. Their text format is bad too. I rarely click on ads but those that I do are usualy non flash banners, or I'll unknowingly read a paid for review. A few key word lines of text doesn't have the click me afpeal that oither ad options do. It is about time they cleaned up their advertisers and made th
    • by jumpinp (1144189)
      I forgot about forum spam. I read a lot of that too.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Google's ads have been pointless for a long time.

      That maybe your opinion, but it's not the fact.

      I don't understand how they make as much revenue as they do with ads that no one, or at least not anyone I know clicking on them.

      Because people are clicking on them, and they are anything but pointless and have been for a long time. Your denial doesn't change this fact.

      he ads are mostly spam and scams.

      That's such a dumb statement that it doesn't even pass the smell test.

      Their text format is bad too.

      You lost me there.

      or I'll unknowingly read a paid for review.

      Wait a second... you're clicking on ADVERTISEMENT and you're complaining that what you end up reading was PAID FOR?! /boggle

      A few key word lines of text doesn't have the click me afpeal that oither ad options do. It is about time they cleaned up their advertisers and made them more relevent.

      Again, you're clearly not either A) the norm or B) an expert on this subject. You're claiming your personal pr

      • I have to agree with him tho. No one I know clicks the ads. They click the search results provided by google.

        Perhaps it is like telemarketing where they only need less than .10% of the calls to be successful to break even. that's basically "no one".

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by MisterZimbu (302338)

      My boss will regularly click the "Sponsored Link" in his google search result thinking that it's a legitimate search result.

      It's not out of the question that people click that Sponsored Link thinking it's a real result, finds that it is the solution to whatever problem they were having (albeit not the best or most cost-effective solution), and make the purchase.

    • by Joebert (946227)
      My best site displays nothing but image and "rich media" ads.
    • Re:google ads (Score:5, Informative)

      by monkeyhybrid (1677192) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @08:54AM (#33674192)
      Just because you and me, and I suspect most Slashdot readers, don't click on ads doesn't mean nobody does. The simple fact is that millions of people do click on ads and Google make an enormous amount of money from it.

      On TV I see adverts for all sorts of thing which are never going to be of any interest to me, my friends, or family, but there are several million other people who will lap it up.

      On another note, I'm actually finding some adverts I see on my Android phone to be much more relevant to me due to the location awareness that comes with a mobile device. Yes, I know Google gathers even more data about me when it also knows where I am, etc, but hey, I just saw my local pizza restaurant has 2 for 1 today. Now, that is useful. ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Rule of Slashdot #0: You and people like you are not representative of the larger population.

    • FWIW people do click on them, and buy the products/fill out the form requested. It's a similar volume to spam where only a small number of "impressions" get clicks, and only a small number of clicks get conversions to the desired target action.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bengie (1121981)

      Do you have Google's tracking disabled some how?

      I get very good targeted adds from NewEgg, Amazon, Stables, and other well known places via Google. And usually the the adds are targeted to what I'm searching and does a pretty good job at it.

      Spam and scams? I didn't know Newegg was in the business of scamming.

      Their text format is bad? The ads I see are extremely easy to read, stands out just enough to notice but not enough to annoy and a quick glance is all I need to see what the ads is for.

      You rarely click

    • by Dishevel (1105119)
      You do not count. Compared to other /. users ... sure, I can see you as a blithering fool spewing out text from your keyboard without a thought in the world to slow you down.
      Compared though to the internet masses, even you sir are comparatively a genius.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JohnFluxx (413620)

      I do occasionally see ads I'm interested in, but sometimes they get a bit creepy.

      For example, I'm looking for a house near where I live. I used a particular website to look for properties. The next day I go to youtube to listen to some music, and on the right it's got a flash ad from the property website, showing houses for sale exactly where I was looking and in the price range. I was actually interested in a few of the properties that it showed and click on a few. But the whole thing was a bit unnervi

    • by metamatic (202216)

      Google's ads have been pointless for a long time. I don't understand how they make as much revenue as they do with ads that no one, or at least not anyone I know clicking on them.

      Hi, I'm a Slashdot reader, a computer hacker, and I click on Google ads.

      Real example from this week: I search for Lightscribe DVD-Rs. Google shows me some ads from companies that sell them. I click the ads to check out their prices and selection.

      Sure, I don't click on ads that appear randomly when I'm not looking to buy something,

  • ...Google has only one wit.
  • Wrong way to do it? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mathinker (909784) * on Thursday September 23, 2010 @08:31AM (#33674040) Journal

    From reading the article, it seems that they are suing for breach of the AdWords contract. This seems unlikely to me to shut down the illegal pharmacies, unless Google is paying investigators to actually do business with the pharmacies and track them down "in real life" --- in which case, why not just give the evidence they obtain to the applicable LEOs?

    I suppose one doesn't prevent the other, but the article doesn't at all address this possibility, in fact, it spins the story like Google might be doing this for CYA in case law enforcement catches these guys all by themselves.

    • by koterica (981373) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @08:48AM (#33674136) Journal
      Does Google care about illegal pharmacies? It looks to me like they just don't want to be in the rather embarrassing position of advertising them.
      However, it is pretty amazing that the response is a lawsuit. I would think that Google, of all people, would be able to filter them out.
    • by MSojka (83577)

      From reading the article, it seems that they are suing for breach of the AdWords contract. This seems unlikely to me to shut down the illegal pharmacies, unless Google is paying investigators to actually do business with the pharmacies and track them down "in real life" --- in which case, why not just give the evidence they obtain to the applicable LEOs?

      Somehow, my brain read this as "... --- in which case, why not just use the evidence they obtain to sent them to an applicable LEO (as in, low-earth orbit)?

    • by vegiVamp (518171)
      Umm... I, for one, don't want a precedent where a big company VOLUNTARILY AND OF IT'S OWN VOLITION decides to send possibly incriminating data on a customer to the authorities, without any warrant or reporting duty.

      Next thing you know, hosting providers will be scanning machines for the occurrence of the HDCP key on discs.
    • by metamatic (202216)

      The problem is really no different from the spam problem ISPs have faced for years.

      The crooks set up a company with a domain and address. They sign up for Google Adwords. Then they use their Adwords account to send out illegal ads, in breach of the contract they agreed to. Chances are they don't pay for the ads either. When Google yanks the ads, the crooks fold the company and start the whole exercise again.

      Google have few options here. If they do nothing, crooks continue to abuse their service in this way,

  • Editors ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mr_Silver (213637) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @08:45AM (#33674118)

    ... please do some editing! There is no need to link to another website when you can go directly to the source [blogspot.com]!

    • by Bengie (1121981)

      If the OP read the news from a site that links to the source, I would think it ethical to link to that site instead of directly to the source since the OP should be giving credit to the site that notified him of the story.

      • by Frnknstn (663642)

        Not at all. It is ethical and customary to credit your source, but link directly to the site.

  • Stories like this always surprise me for a second because since I haven't seen hardly any ads in years I often forget they're there in the first place.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Whenever I turn-off my ad-blocker, I get those annoying ads with cartoony images of before-and-after fatties, it aggravates me so much that I don't feel sorry for blocking these sites' revenues... I hope they get banned next.

  • I've seen a ton of dodgy ads for penny stocks and the like on their service lately.

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @09:55AM (#33674852)

    The price is 1/10th retail.

    The drugs are effective and actually appear to be the real thing in real packaging.

    So how can these guys sell this way at such low prices when my pills legitimately through mail order discount places run $2 to $3 each?

    Have to be gross amounts of profit somewhere in the chain.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by swb (14022)

      Stolen product is one thing that comes to mind. There's got to be a half-dozen ways to crack into the distribution networks of pharmaceuticals, either through armed robbery, burglary, hijacking, extortion or other methods. Pills aren't teleported to the thousands of pharmacies in the US and not everyone involved in that supply chain is honest or beyond influence.

      It wouldn't also surprise me if more organized efforts hadn't been made to "get into" the wholesaling business whereby you'd have legal access to

      • by Viceice (462967)

        It may simply be from another country. It may be an alien concept to Americans, but a lot of countries subsidize essential drugs for the well being of their citizens.

    • by EXrider (756168)
      Well we can all thank your cheapskate friend for supporting the spammers that flood our networks, servers and inboxes with junk.
    • by Bengie (1121981)

      From stories of people I know that travel and help in missionary trips, they've seen many name brand drugs that go for $100-$200 a pop go for $5-$10 in other countries and we're talking about buying from the same company, so not stolen.

      Go to a poorer country and buy up drugs at an almost free rate and re-sell back to the USA.

  • Google's business model requires dodgy advertisers. Google has created and funded a whole industry of AdWords arbitrage, encouraging web spam. That's a big part of their customer base. How often do you see a Fortune 1000 company in a Google ad?

    In 2004 and 2005, Google sponsored the "Web Spam Squashing Summit" [sifry.com] In 2006, Google turned to the dark side. They started sponsoring the Search Engine Strategies [searchengi...tegies.com] conference, the web spammer's convention. That's when "Don't be Evil" ended.

    We track Google ads a

  • by OnePumpChump (1560417) on Thursday September 23, 2010 @03:49PM (#33679354)
    I get people coming to the reference desk asking for information about various treatments for ailments. Sometimes actual science-based medicine, sometimes plausible alternative medicine, and sometimes outright quackery, and sometimes all three at once.

    I usually turn the monitor around so that they can see what I am doing. (Sometimes I think this may be a mistake, because they don't understand what I am doing.) If I'm doing a series of Google searches, trying to narrow things down to what we're looking for, they'll stop me and point to the ads. Usually (almost invariably) selling some transparently bogus alternative treatment. (Remember, they're coming to me asking me to help them find out what's what, not necessarily looking for someplace to buy their radiation crystal magnets.) They'll say "OH, OH, THAT'S IT!" when they see a keyword or two in the ad that relates to what they're looking for.

    There are a LOT of people who receive information completely uncritically. They can't tell an ad trying to sell them something from an informational article. They can't tell the difference between an emotional appeal or an argument based essentially on sympathetic magic from actual science. THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO CLICK THOSE ADS. They'll reject things if they've been inoculated against it, but only because they've been told that they should, and had that admonition connected to some deeply held belief. They won't do so because they have legitimately considered whether it could be true or false.

    That is why advertisers, particularly on Google with its text ads, have the potential to do a lot of harm.
  • I run an online community and I fully support Google in going after these assholes. They've been spamming our forums for the Google hits (the website has a surprisingly good Google presence despite its relatively small size) and there hasn't been much I can do about it. I'm planning a massive upgrade to new software, which has been long overdue, and I hope it will fix the problem. I'll bet it's the same guys that have been trying to circumvent Google. I'll bet there's some way to use the DMCA anti-circumven

Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket. -- George Orwell

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