Are Google ads costing you money?

Are Google ads costing you money?
No, this is not another Microsoft “Scroogled” campaign belying the contention of Google’s practice of paid advertisers getting the top shopping search results.

However, Microsoft’s campaign was trying to drive home a point which may prove relevant to those that do not pay attention to what they search for on the internet. Granted, Google is the search engine of choice, and that top spot is largely deserved. Like any company however, the goal is to make money, and Google, even with all its “free” stuff, makes a ton of money.

That money is made through advertising. Not just through Google Ads that appear on various web-sites, but also through search rankings, both in the shopping section, and in the general search. It is a common practice, companies pay to be at the top of the search rankings so they attract the most customers. We all know this.

However, if you are not paying attention, it might just cost you. A woman named Laura (not her real name) was in a hurry to pay London’s “congestion charge” which is a fee charged to vehicles that operate within the city’s Congestion Charge Zone. The common fee is £10 ($15) per day by the government’s official TfL (Transport for London).

Laura was in a rush, went to Google, searched for information to pay the congestion fee and clicked on the first site she saw and paid the charge, but instead of paying £10, she paid £15 ($23).  The government got its £10, but the 50% premium was pocketed by which pays Google to be a top listed search result and happened to be the site Laura selected after executing her search. The fact that makes it pretty clear at the top of its page that it is not affiliated with TfL is another story, but still relevant to paying attention in general.

TfL, to its credit, has been working with the search engines about unofficial sites, but Google has not been responsive (whereas it looks like Yahoo! and Bing have complied with the requests). The moral of the story is to pay close attention when you hit that search button on your device, whether it is linking you up with Yahoo!, Bing, Google, or anywhere, if you miss a detail, it might cost you hard earned money. 

source: The Guardian



1. idroidequis

Posts: 103; Member since: Jan 23, 2013

If your not smart enough to read between the lines you minus well just throw your money away. In a world where everyone is trying to make a buck you gotta stay ahead of the game.

5. plgladio

Posts: 314; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

Well said, if Google has not made this MS or Yahoo would have made that for sure.

9. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

Exactly ! Its your fault if you click a link in hurry. BTW the congestion charge is marked all over London there is no way anyone can not know the charges I know the charges and I even dont a vehicle. Also, Google clearly highlights the advertisement. The article even says the website has clearly indicated on top of the page for its charges. Stop blaming the company for your mistake. Nothing in this world is for free, even Google !

2. soshi

Posts: 154; Member since: Mar 08, 2012

Then this is the who stole the money. If they don't get money buy fair business they should not part google to top their bussiness. The title is misleading. You know that most reader of this site don't read

3. wendygarett unregistered

A lot of people felt for it, especially those scam ads that keep sucking your money without notice :(

4. Firedrops

Posts: 254; Member since: Sep 06, 2011

Should be titled "Is being stupid costing you money."

6. imsickwithsmartphone

Posts: 153; Member since: Jan 28, 2013


7. boosook

Posts: 1442; Member since: Nov 19, 2012

Laura was in a rush and didn't have time to look at the links returned by the search engine, so she just chose the first. Laura was in a rush and, though the first sponsoerd link is in a yellow box different from the other links where it's clearly written that it is an ad, she probably didn't have time to read it. Laura was in a rush and didn't have time to waste, so she paid for a service. Where's the problem?

8. papss unregistered

While it is due to her stupidity had this been about anyone other than Google there would be a different angle that the folks on here would have taken.

10. MartyK

Posts: 1043; Member since: Apr 11, 2012

I doubt if there would be a different angle; the article made it clear, "Laura was in a rush". This is why in school they always say," take your time, read it carefully". So no matter if it's Google, Apple or Yellow book, she chose to be careless and it cost her. The End.

11. papss unregistered

No you missed what I was saying..... If this had been bing that had been used versus google the posters would be all over it claiming M$ is out to take her money regardless of the truth that it was her stupidity that caused her to be charged more

12. chaoticrazor

Posts: 2347; Member since: Aug 28, 2012

true, lets face it google can do no wrong to many on here. if this was microsoft the android fans would be crying how evil they are double standards

13. jsdechavez

Posts: 814; Member since: Jul 20, 2012

Agree. They love Google but keep on hating Microsoft..

21. idroidequis

Posts: 103; Member since: Jan 23, 2013

Yea those android fanboys are worse than any others at the moment. They never broaden their outlook on the view. The immediately see android and samsung and say yes. But any other company and the trolls come out. Theyre like the obnoxious rich boy back in grade school who though he was so superior to everyone else. But everything that goes up must come down and sadly one day something will rise against google and people will take the side of the underdog. Its just the nature of man.

14. sithvenger

Posts: 371; Member since: Aug 25, 2012

Big time double standards bro. Think if apple had done this, they'd b going nuts but since its el goog they just make excuses. Google is a great Shepard.

25. ZeroCide

Posts: 816; Member since: Jan 09, 2013

No one would go nuts if Apple did it. Stuff like that is expected from apple.

19. soshi

Posts: 154; Member since: Mar 08, 2012

Google can do wrong, but in this case Google position only as a bridge between customers and business. The same if, let say, disney land put ads on magazine. They pay for the room to put ads. The magz only put it as what disney paid them; the design, the size and the information of the ads is all by disney. But transaction between the customer and Disney land for using their service is no more the magazine problems. Got it bro?

20. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

Well said. No matter what your source, it's always best to shop around. You can't just trust the first link you see, or at least I don't, no matter what your search engine of choice. Also, not every topic here has to be Google vs MS, Apple, Blackberry, or whatever.

22. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 2010

plus many of the adds clearly say sponsored and are highlighted in yellow

23. rusticguy

Posts: 2828; Member since: Aug 11, 2012

give google a few more years with 60% mobile market share and they would do more evil than anyone else :)

15. DigitalMD

Posts: 226; Member since: Feb 17, 2010

The more devious way the junk ads and fake search returns cost you money is if you are on a limited or tiered data plan. You have to sort through all that ads and crap you don;t want yo find what you need , and you are paying for all that garbage.

16. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

I love how ppl like to talk in generalizations....and think one person or a specifc group speaks for all users..... In every article I posted.....known fans of Google or Android.....either didnt bash or take Google's side. In the last one....guy said they should get sued if thats what they're doing. First post.... Last article is peppered with pro Android, Google folks not taking Google's side... Stop thinking a select few speaks for all users.....that a fanboy trait..... Anyway...I have always had to tell ppl about this that didnt know. Never click on the sponsered ads. Sometimes they turn out to be scam sites. I dont see sponsered links on my desktop anymore or that much. I think I blocked them somehow. I dont see them on my phone either... Something happened I didnt Ok....seems like something popular has sponsered links. I did a search for MS on my desktop...sponsered ad.....Its hit or miss. Some popular things dont have the ads...some do...

17. papss unregistered

Fair enough... Twice agreed in one day..

18. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Its a randon thing. Another search for MS doesnt have the ad...interesting.... it used to be worse than that. I remember every search had sponsered ads. I hope they cracked down on the scam sites that are sponsered ads....

24. Bilpocalypse

Posts: 301; Member since: Oct 13, 2012

I agree with you. However, the problem is that those few (which can be counted on one hand) comment on here more than anybody else. Its very hard to ignore them. To me, they seem to be just trolls who are commenting to make themselves feel self-important... so I try my best to ignore them (which is painstakingly difficulty sometimes). To most, they are a generalization of their specific groups, because the rest of the group doesn't speak up.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.