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So Google wins over the ACCC ….surprise or expected?

keyboard with green button with search icon.


8.2.2013

For those of you who haven’t heard, the High Court on Wednesday ruled that Google was not responsible for sponsored links or paid for ads that appear in its search results and that Google’s practice of allowing advertisers to buy up rivals trading names on AdWords is not illegal. 

What are the facts? 

So far we know sponsored links are paid ads that sit alongside organic search results. Therefore, Google link advertising is driving revenue and also providing a technology platform. 

The Adwords platform is a free operating platform. Although Google provides a guide to advertisers on the do’s and don’ts of utilising the tool, their rather lengthy T’s & C’s clearly deflect any responsibility of Adwords advertising from Google itself. From experience, I know the lengths Google goes to to protect its algorithms and ensure everyone understands the processes and advertiser responsibilities, however whether the choice to lay all liability with the advertiser is right, wrong or in the grey has been made ever more murky by the outcome of the ACCC ruling. 

Who then holds responsibility? 

Should Google be responsible for checking billions of ads that run through their network and potentially accept liability for misleading conduct? Is there an algorithm for human error? Well, we all know the answer is no.

So the onus is on the content creator to accept responsibility for their own content.  Google provides the technology that drives relevant users to the advertiser’s product or business but we, as advertisers, have complete control over the text accompanying each sponsored link and, thus, possess the ability to change the text and various ads at our convenience. That’s the beauty of Google’s free operating systems. 

As an advertising agency we are then left with the relatively simple task of setting up, monitoring, optimising and controlling the costs and performance for each campaign. However, as users of these tools we need to be across all of Google’s latest policies, technologies, and products in order to develop a firm understanding of the processes and risks ourselves. In doing so, we are able to pass on our knowledge to clients by guaranteeing the best possible ROI whilst ensuring they suffer minimal negative impact – if any. 

This area may always be grey, especially as the online space is one that is continually evolving and innovating beyond our control. Let’s thank Google for their products but also make sure we too evolve and innovate our own knowledge of their tools so that we can cater to our client’s requirements and be able to manage them accordingly and with confidence. 

 

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