Back in 2017, Google agreed to provide refunds to select advertisers using DoubleClick Bid Manager (it is now called Display & Video 360) where ads were served on sites that had fraudulent or invalid traffic. It was reported that hundreds of marketers were eligible. But, according according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), there was class-action lawsuit by AdTrader that asserted that Google improperly withheld those refund payments.
After the fraud was first discovered, Google said it would repay its “platform fee,” which typically represents somewhere between 7% to 10% of the total value of ad spend. There were some marketers who were dissatisfied with the scheme. But, according to the WSJ, “Google said it wasn’t in a position to return money that had already flowed from its buying tool to third-party online ad marketplaces where publishers were selling ad space.”
The class action suit was initiated against Google in California federal court, where AdTrader said that Google had “illegally appropriated” promised advertiser refunds. According to the lawsuit, the refund were never actually issued by Google, after reclaiming money from publishers accused of having ifnlated or fraudulent traffic.
Based on unsealed court documents reviewed by the WSJ, it seemed to show that Google had not paid as much as $75 million in potential refunds tied to “ad marketplaces that Google itself owns and fully controls: AdX and AdSense.”
Several third analyst and monitoring firms estimated that ad fraud amounts to over than $16 billion globally. There are other reports that show different figures. there are a number of different U.S. estimates, including from the Association of National Advertisers, say that brands will lose between $6 and $7 billion this year on fraudulent (non-human) traffic.