I had heard about this some time ago and then read about it in the LA Times: Groupon being sued for generating Google AdWords with ad copy that doesn’t correspond to landing page offers. Here’s what the LA Times’ article says about the lawsuit:
Groupon is being accused of running “false and misleading business and advertising acts” and running “bait and switch” ads on Google.com, according to a lawsuit filed by a bus tour company in San Francisco.
In the complaint, which was filed in a San Francisco district court, San Francisco Comprehensive Tours argues that Groupon has found a way to unlawfully manipulate Google’s AdWords advertising system that pairs text ads from companies with related search results on Google.com.
Shortly after reading the article I stumbled upon a “bait and switch” Groupon ad on Google. First the ad on Google, which shows a Groupon promotion for 50-90% off a snow play area in Incline Village, Nevada:
But when I clicked through there was an unrelated Groupon promotion for the same general geography:
Putting aside the merits of the lawsuit, Groupon appears to be using specific promotions as AdWords copy and then tying them to geographically (but not substantively) relevant landing pages.
This may be great for CTR but it’s a bad user experience — theoretically Google will penalize them — and it’s disorienting. Whether this is Groupon’s idea or its agency’s Groupon should stop the practice.
It may also qualify as false advertising under FTC guidelines.