FTC Not Doing Enough Around Google's Deceptive Search Ads Says WSJ

Oct 15, 2014 • 8:57 am | comments (31) by | Filed Under Legal Issues in Search

hiding homerThe Wall Street Journal's piece named Ads Tied to Web Searches Criticized as Deceptive (search for the title in Google and click from there to get the full story for free) shows how the FTC is preventing Google and other search engines from "deceiving" searchers into clicking on their ads.

Greg Sterling first highlighted this article.

“Consumers are being tricked,” says Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a consumer-advocacy group whose complaints helped push the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 2002 to first issue guidelines recommending that search engines clearly delineate listings that are ads.

“That’s not saying much, because Google is still trying to deceive consumers,” says Jakob Nielsen of Nielsen Norman Group, a consultancy that focuses on how people interact with websites. The search engines “are trying to make their ads look as much like regular content as they can,” says Mr. Nielsen. As a result, he says, “you can rest assured they are getting more clicks” on ads.

The WSJ shows screen shots of how the ads have changed over the years - from very colorized backgrounds clearly separating the ads from the organic listings to more blended approaches with a very small Google ad label near the ads.

Will this get the FTC to revisit the ad formats deployed by search engines? Hard to say but time will tell.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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