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Saturday, August 23, 2003

Paid Listings Continue to Mystify "Slow" Searchers

Apparently, even experienced web searchers are still a bit slow on the uptake that some search results are actually paid listings, according to this article, which describes a recent study by Consumer WebWatch.

On a related note, one fellow at the SES conference last week in San Jose was shocked -- just shocked! -- that there was such a thing as paid search engine results, which he instantly understood to mean "tainted."

"Wait until the government does something about this," he basically told host Danny Sullivan.

"That already happened," Sullivan returned, "two YEARS ago" when the FTC issued paid listing guidelines, and search engines have already complied with the guidelines.

"Well, when the public finds out about this, it will be a major scandal!" the conferencegoer exclaimed. "You just watch!" Danny just sort of shook his head and moved on with the discussion.

In the aforementioned article, Sullivan also points out that newspapers have balanced paid ads and content for over a hundred years, and no one complains about that. So true, but apparently even experienced searchers still can't tell the difference between "organic" search results, and those labeled "paid" or even "sponsored."

Gee, it seems to me that even most imbeciles know what those words mean. In any case, Consumer WebWatch said it would release paid listing guidelines for search engines really, really soon. And just in time, too!

Posted by Cory Kleinschmidt




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