An advertiser sued Google in federal court claiming the company deceived him and charged for ads displayed on third-party web sites, even though he left blank an 'optional' box that seemed to address the issue, a Reuters report said.
The Reuters report said the dispute is over Google's popular AdSense program, which targets ads to keywords in articles and other content at participating sites.
The program complements the traditional AdWords program, which runs targeted ads alongside Google's search results, the report said.
Ads under both programs generate the bulk of Google's revenues.
The lawsuit accuses Google of defrauding advertisers out of millions of dollars collectively by 'redefining the universally understood meaning of an input form left blank.'
The Reuters report said the plaintiff in the case, David Almeida, had signed up for Google ads to promote his private investigation business in Massachusetts. Because he did not want to buy AdSense ads, Almeida said he left the maximum per-click bid blank, believing 'optional' meant he could opt out of the AdSense program by doing so, the report said.
Instead, it turned out the AdWords bid applied when he did not exercise that option, and he should have put 'zero' into the box to opt out, said his attorney, Brian Kabateck.
Google declined comment, saying it had not yet received the complaint.