The massive growth of the internet means that it’s easier than ever before to start a business and reach a huge audience.
Trouble is, those businesses aren’t always legitimate services and Google has seen an increase in people using its AdWords system to try and sell counterfeit goods online.
Today the company has announced three initiatives that it hopes will have an impact on the fakers.
"In the last six months of 2010 alone, we shut down approximately 50,000 AdWords accounts for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods,” said Kent Walker, Senior VP and General Counsel, Google.
Walker says there’s no silver bullet that will end the criminal activity for ever though. "Instead, it’s a cat-and-mouse game, where we are constantly working to improve our practices and tune our systems to keep out the bad guys.”
Three changes have been made that Google says will improve its collaboration with brand owners to address the problem and prevent counterfeiters from abusing its services.
We’ll act on reliable AdWords counterfeit complaints within 24 hours
In 2009, we announced a new complaint form to make it fast and easy for brand owners to notify us of misuse. For brand owners who use this form responsibly, we’ll reduce our average response time to 24 hours or less.
We will improve our AdSense anti-counterfeit reviews
We have always prohibited our AdSense partners from placing Google ads on sites that include or link to sales of counterfeit goods. We will work more closely with brand owners to identify infringers and, when appropriate, expel them from the AdSense programme.
We’ve introduced a new help center page for reporting counterfeits
That way, we aim to make it easier for users and brand owners to find forms to report abuse.
"While our systems get better over time, counterfeiting remains a complex challenge, and we keep investing in anti-counterfeiting measures,” continued Walker. "After all, a Google user duped by a fake is far less likely to click on another Google ad in the future. Ads for counterfeits aren't just bad for the real brand holder – they're bad for users who can end up unknowingly buying sub-standard products, and they're bad for Google too.”
Have you ever been stung by an online ad? Tell us below.