Identifying Ads in Search Engine Results

Score one for the FTC! A recent article on Digital Trends summarizes the “rap on the knuckles” being given by the FTC to the search engine companies because they’ve veered away from the 2002 guidelines that state that Ads must be “clearly distinguished” from the natural search results.

I have fussed about this before as I have watched the top ad banner background on Google search results continue to fade…

Advertising resultsThe top 3 results in this screenshot are Google Ads, as well as the whole right sidebar. It used to be that the ads on top had a much more distinctive yellow (or sometimes blue) background. It’s now a very pale peach color that I sometimes I have to look very closely at to determine where the natural search results begin.

According to a survey done by the FTC, I’m not the only one having trouble see where the ads end and the natural search results begin…

“A recent online survey by a search strategies company found that nearly half of searchers did not recognize top ads as distinct from natural search results and said the background shading used to distinguish the ads was white,” the FTC said in the letter.

Read more:

Google is not the only search engine who received notification from the FTC. There were 7 general search engines and 17 specialty search engines that received notification to improve their ad labeling practices.

What do you think?

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