A hefty price for a Google Ad.

Author: Jeremy Szwider

14 February 2022 | Reading time: 2 minutes

When seeking out answers, we all reach for Google, the most commonly used platform for information searches. Often, we assume that our search results are accurate.

Accuracy is very important when businesses market their products and services on the internet. It is for this reason that they should ensure they do not mislead or deceive consumers.

Advertising in the digital age

The ACCC keeps a close eye on online activities. One of its key concerns is the use of advertising methods or materials that may potentially mislead or deceive consumers.

As part of Google’s advertising services, an advertiser can specify keywords corresponding to a paid search result. These words are generated by the advertiser using a platform provided by Google. Google then uses different algorithms to generate search results for paid and unpaid searches.

The recent Federal Court of Australia decision in ACCC v Employsure Pty Ltd (2021), considered Google ads in the context of misleading or deceiving consumers with respect to a company’s affiliation with a government agency.

ACCC v Employsure Pty Ltd


  • The ACCC initiated proceedings against Employsure alleging it misled consumers by conveying its affiliation with a government agency.
  • As part of its marketing strategy, Employsure selected keywords for its Google ads, such as ‘fair work Australia’, ‘fair work’, ‘fwc’ and ‘fair work ombudsman’. This meant that Google would display the Employsure business ad as the top result when consumers searched these keywords.

An example of a Google Ads run by Employsure:






  • The Full Federal Court ultimately found 6 out of 7 of the Google ads used by Employsure had breached the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), by giving the impression that its employment service would be provided by a government agency, rather than a private company.
  • In January 2022, the ACCC challenged the original penalty judgement of $1million as being ‘manifestly inadequate’. It is now seeking the original penalty of $5million.

Key takeaways

When developing online marketing strategies, it is always important to ensure that:

  • the marketed content is directly related to goods and services of your business;
  • the marketing material does not mislead or deceive consumers;
  • you follow the ACL guidelines when advertising your goods / services; and
  • you implement an in-house ACL regime as part of your business’ ‘checks and balances’.

Need assistance?

The Bespoke team assists businesses to ensure compliance with the ACL advertising and marketing obligations. Contact us for an obligation free chat today.