Search engines have gotten a lot of flack about the way their ads are displayed on the search results pages. The primary complaint has been that the ads look too similar to the organic results, which can cause some confusion to users regarding what they are clicking on. The FCT has issued several statements and regulations that require search engines to make it clear what results are paid, and which are organic several years ago. If you ask the Wall Street Journal, however, they aren’t doing enough.
In fact, they have essentially called the FTC out going as far one WTJ writer saying that the FTC is, “a toothless tiger.” Their issue is that the search results pages make such a small distinction between the paid search results and those that are organic that it is almost impossible to tell at a glance. The primary difference is a very slight shading behind the paid search results, which on many screens is virtually invisible.
The WSJ isn’t the only group that is upset about the issue, however. Robert Weissman, who is the president of Public Citizen, said “Consumers are being tricked.” And Jakob Nielsen of Nielsen Normal Group said, “Google is still trying to deceive consumers.”
What, if any, response the FTC will issue to these complaints has yet to be seen. At this point they have not issued a response to the comments. The main search engines, including Google, Bing and Yahoo have all responded to the WSJ saying that they are following the rules as they are written, and are in compliance with all FTC regulations.
You can read the Wall Street Journal comments HERE.