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Regulators Not Stopping Deceptive Ads From Google, Bing and Yahoo

     
1:28 pm on Oct 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Google, Yahoo and Bing were among 22 search sites told by US federal regulators last year that they need to start marking out ads more prominently in search results to protect consumers from unwittingly clicking on paid-for links. The companies have responded by doing well, very little.


[finance.yahoo.com...]

[edited by: bakedjake at 6:21 pm (utc) on Oct 15, 2014]
[edit reason] fixed link [/edit]

4:44 pm on Oct 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Depending upon the monitor/screen i'm using it is sometimes difficult to tell what's what, especially with text ads, and i'm not just referring to Google.

With Google AdSense, you absolutely have to get the ads right and can be booted from the program if your ads are somehow displayed in a deceptive way.
9:20 pm on Oct 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Some search engines are better or worse than others are.

Google: The new yellow "Ad" icon is much more obvious than the old tinted background was. Also, the title text is bigger than in the organic results, and there's a horizontal line between the ads at the top of the page and the organic results.

Bing: The grey ad background is pretty subtle--maybe too subtle on some displays.

Yahoo: The shading behind the ads is almost invisible on my high-end desktop monitor. I'm sure it *is* invisible on some screens.

DuckDuckGo: There's an "ad" icon next to the ad at the top of the SERP, but otherwise the ad is blended into the organic results. (The ad doesn't turn grey when you move the cursor over it as the organic results do, but most users aren't likely to notice the difference.)

Yandex: I can't get any ads to display on a Yandex SERP, so who knows?
10:56 pm on Oct 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I'm sure Google's 'ad' sign is smaller, and a paler yellow than it used to be. They certainly have form for this type of stunt.

If the regulators are telling them to make ads more recognisable, and the search engines aren't doing it, then either the regulators are toothless or they don't really care.
11:32 pm on Oct 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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No rush for them right, please the shareholders just a bit longer. Make the next GOOG earnings look that much brighter. ;)

I can't tell the difference at all on most all of my screens and I see the ads on like 6 different ones here at least.
1:39 am on Oct 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I'm sure Google's 'ad' sign is smaller, and a paler yellow than it used to be


I wouldn't know about that, but I do know that the "Ad" icon is hard to miss.
3:56 am on Oct 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Google: The new yellow "Ad" icon is much more obvious than the old tinted background was. Also, the title text is bigger than in the organic results, and there's a horizontal line between the ads at the top of the page and the organic results.


I think it's important to remember that that's what you're seeing, it's not necessarily a universal thing.
2:43 pm on Oct 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I think it's important to remember that that's what you're seeing, it's not necessarily a universal thing.


Right. That's why I referred to "some screens" and "some displays."

The fact remains that some search engines do a better job than others do. Google and DuckGoGo's ad icons are clearly visible on every device that I've tried. The Bing and Yahoo shaded backgrounds, on the other hand, are easy to miss on some displays.
4:22 pm on Oct 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I wouldn't know about that, but I do know that the "Ad" icon is hard to miss.


On the right hand side I see one tiny yellow 'ad' box with 8 unmarked ads under it. Hardly trumpeting the fact that they are paid ads, are they.

The other (tiny) 'ad' boxes are below the headlines, which most people focus and click on. Again, they couldn't really do less to mark them as ads.

Still, no doubt you will continue to see what you wish to see.
4:40 pm on Oct 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Still, no doubt you will continue to see what you wish to see.


No, I see what's on the page.

The entire column on the right side is labeled "ads," and I think it's pretty obvious to most searchers that the organic results are in the main (wide) column.

What you call "tiny ad boxes" are icons that stand out much more than a subtle grey background does.

It certainly would be possible for search engines to differentiate ads from organic results even more clearly (e.g., by using a unique color for ad links), but for now, some search engines--such as Google and, to a lesser degree, DuckDuckGo--are doing a better job than their competitors are.
5:00 pm on Oct 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It's all subjective, imho.

From my point of view, the background color in Google is close to non-existent. Only the "Ad" gives it away.

Bing's background color for ads, and the vertical line is visible, and that looks clear to me what is an ad and what's organic.

Yahoo's is probably the worst, imho. The background is almost invisible, and it's really difficult to see where the ads end and the organic starts.

DuckDuckGo has the Google-esq "AD" against the record, but I cannot see any different color background.

As I said, it's purely subjective.
5:22 pm on Oct 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Since this is a Google forum, the following paragraph from the story is of special interest:

It's also worth mentioning that some users actually think the changes Google has recently made on ad labeling are for the better. Google's move to replace shading with a small bit of text reading "Ad" in front of a yellow background was welcomed by the 50 people who took part in a poll in March, conducted by Usertesting.com. They said it made it clearer to figure out which results were ads and which were organic links.


So yes, "it's all subjective," but here are the details of what Usertesting.com's testing showed (the link is from the Yahoo Finance article):

[usertesting.com...]

Side note: The FTC's letter was written in June, 2013, so it's reasonable to assume that many, if not most, of the 22 search engines have made changes in the year and a quarter since then. (This thread would have been more relevant 15 months ago than it is today.)
5:28 pm on Oct 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Addendum:

Maybe Bing has found a solution to the problem: Serve only ads or only organic results. Yeah, I know it's being portrayed as a glitch, but who can prove that it isn't a test?

[searchengineland.com...]
 

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