The non-profit advocacy group Consumer Watchdog is calling for federal regulators to take a closer look at home loan, credit repair and health products ads that rely on Google's AdWords technology to saturate the Internet with dubious advertising claims.
That comes after the U.S. Department of Justice today hit Google with a $500 million sanction for enabling AdWords ads promoting illegal pharmaceutical drugs.
"Google has a very a big incentive to turn a blind eye to all sorts of sketchy and even illegal advertising," says John Simpson, spokesman for Consumer Watchdog. "That was clearly the case with these illegal drug ads. There are problems with other types of ads, too."
Last February, Consumer Watchdog went public with Liars and loans: how deceptive advertisers use Google, a 37-page report outlining how Google profits by accepting deceptive and predatory advertising for sketchy mortgages and credit repair services. Health-related ads are also "very troublesome," says Simpson.
Microsoft and Yahoo also use online advertising systems that work much like AdWords, and should be scrutinized too, he says.
"These dubious ads continue to be a problem with Google as well as other online companies," says Simpson. "Perhaps this settlement will serve as a wakeup call for the industry and they will act more responsibly."
Consumer Watchdog is calling for further enforcement action by regulators.