In re Google AdWords Litigation

US District Court Judge Edward Davila ruled in favor of Analysis Group client Google, Inc., denying plaintiffs' motion for certification in this class action filed in the Northern District of California, San Jose Division. The plaintiffs, a putative class of business and individual users of Google's AdWords service, claimed that Google had failed to disclose that it had placed AdWords advertisements on millions of sites that were rarely visited, and that it had improperly charged plaintiffs for ads placed on these websites.

An Analysis Group team, led by Managing Principal T. Christopher Borek and Vice President John Browning, supported our academic affiliate, Randolph Bucklin, in addressing issues of class certification. A key issue was whether there was a class-wide method for determining the composition of the class and any benefits the class members may have received "from sales and other conversion events" associated with AdWords. In his report, Dr. Bucklin, a professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, discussed AdWords' dynamic pricing model (the price paid per click is different for each user, set through an auction mechanism) and advertisers' widely varying goals for their ad placements – both of which make it difficult to calculate "the actual value of what advertisers received for their payments to Google."

Citing Professor Bucklin's reports extensively in his decision, Judge Davila noted that "individualized issues of restitution permeated the class claims." As such, the court denied the plaintiffs' motion for class certification. Subsequently, the ruling was reversed on grounds unrelated to Professor Bucklin's opinion, and the matter was settled.


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