Posted March 25, 2011 7:35 am by with 1 comment

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Look, just because a competitor outbids you on Google AdWords, that does not mean you can file a lawsuit against them.

OK, so that advertiser didn’t actually have any of the products it was advertising, you still can’t claim the ads were misleading.

What’s that? The advertiser is Groupon and if you sue them you might get some easy publicity?

Have at it, son!

Honestly, that’s the only reason I can think of that a San Francisco tour company is suing the discount coupon company over its “false and misleading business and advertising acts.” According to the lawsuit (via LA Times),

Beginning in about September of 2010, Plaintiff (San Francisco Comprehensive Tours) observed that the cost of its click-throughs began to skyrocket, and its ranking in the purchased placement area for searches including the terms “San Francisco Tours,” “Alcatraz Tours,” and “Napa Wine Tours” began to decline. At the same time, defendant Groupon’s AdWords link began to appear at or near the top of purchased placement search results for Google searches including the terms “San Francisco Tours,” “Alcatraz Tours,” and “Napa Wine Tours”

The complaint goes on to say that Groupon has only ever offered one coupon that comes close to the keywords it was bidding on in AdWords.

I’m no legal-eagle, but where’s the harm? The searcher clicks through, sees there’s no actual offer, and hits the back-button. The San Francisco tour operator ultimately gets the business and Groupon just looks stupid for bidding on something it doesn’t offer–kind of like when eBay bids on things like “get used diapers at”

What will be the outcome? I have no idea. I suspect this is just a publicity stunt–and it’s working–but I do like the suggestion that one commenter made over at the LA Times:

If they get 1000 people to sign on for a class action, they get 50% off legal fees!

Nice! 😀

  • The suit is asinine, but I could understand where a company feels they’re being harmed by a competitor advertising in their space for something they don’t even offer.

    I’ll be surprised if Google doesn’t intervene in this though. “Lying” in ads like this leads to bad user experience.