Ads on Google to Show ‘Hidden Costs’ of Free Content

Six months ago the Florida Attorney General’s office started holding talks with Google regarding ads on the search site that promise free ringtones or other mobile content but actually trick consumers into signing up for paid subscription services.

This week, the parties finally came to an agreement, MediaPost reports. Google will now require its advertisers to disclose any hidden costs up-front, instead of buried in the tiny fine print or not mentioned at all.

When these sponsored links appear on the search results page, they’ll now have to plainly state that the free ringtones are ad-supported or are offered as a bonus with a monthly subscription.

Last year, AT&T, AzoogleAds and Media Breakaway fell victim to the Florida AG’s office for their own misleading “free content” ads, and ended up shelling out millions in fines and rebates.