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The new ads blend very easily into the rest of the organic SERPs. It even took me a second glance to realize which results were ads and which were real results.
Is this new behavior? Or is Google just testing stuff?
[edited by: tedster at 9:54 pm (utc) on April 28, 2008]
It took me over 6 months to finally train my parents to ignore the first few "yellow results" and look at the "real results" below. Well, Google has trumped my efforts.
It looks like the Big G will do anything to increase their bottom line, even if it means removing the boundary separating sponsored results from organic results.
I thought it was only Yahoo that compromised the integrity of their results by mixing sponsored and organic results. Pretty soon, we might be adding Google to the same list.
Definitely NOT a good sign of things to come.
#FFF9DD is just a cop-out. If Google is going to blur the line between paid ads and organic results, they should just go all the way and use #FFFFFF for the whole page. Somehow, this near-match sends an even worse message, to my sensibilities.
I hope we see this bad decision revert in the very near future.
However not Google, but Yahoo may be the "pioneer" here; their sponsored ads colors seem even worse + the yellowish highlight when you go over both the organic and sponsored results makes it even more confusing. On the other hand, currently their "SPONSORED RESULTS" text is much more visible than on Google.
The AdWords deception isn't in Search Pages; it's in the Content Network where the "Ads by Google" notice is below the ad (and to the right). Most of the AdWords ads are like that. And Google wonders why so many advertisers abandoned the Content Network.
It's probably easier to understand with Jaws than on a visual browser! I still feel that clear labeling requires redundant visual cues, and both the cues, background color and text label, have become ambiguous.
This move seems to indicate that Google wants more people to click AdWords ads, even if the clicks were obtained through somewhat deceptive means. With a white background, many more people will click the ad without knowing that it is an ad. Is it just me, or is this bad for advertisers?
I hope this is not a permanent change.
First 10 results will be ads (OR websites that participate in Adwords program and spend a minimum of $X per month), all others will be organic results mixed with ads. I can see something like that implemented by 2009.
I'd be surprised if that happened. Google will only remain the market leader while the perception is that their search results are better than the competition's. Selling them out (and Yahoo are already out selling Top 6 SERPS slots incidentally) would be a dangerous strategy and I'm sure they are fully aware of that. Unless they feel that their product range is now so vast and inherantly embedded that they can survive such a change.
The colour they have chosen suggests to me they are "trialling" the blur between paid and unpaid to see what the effects are.
[edited by: Simsi at 5:04 pm (utc) on May 1, 2008]
A Consumers Union national survey found that 60% of U.S. Internet users had not heard or read that certain search engines were paid fees to list some sites more prominently than others in their search results. After being told that some search engines take these fees, 80% said it is important (including 44% who said it is very important) for a search engine to disclose, in its search results or in an easy-to-find page on its site, that it is being paid to list certain sites more prominently.
I suppose if the distinction is once again being blurred the suggestion would be that searchers are either better able to identify subtle disclosure, or alternatively no longer care. Frankly, I'm not convinced of either.