Clicking on an ad when you don’t want to is a mistake that many people make each day.
After entering a word or phrase into a search engine, the returned search results often provide a wealth of information and a few relevant ads. The FTC, however, wants search engines to make search results clearer with regard to results that are organic and those that are paid ads.
Ten years after the FTC issued its first warning on this matter, on Tuesday the FTC sent letters to Google, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft’s Bing, and other search engines to encourage them to improve upon their present practices of separating ads from search results.
In the last decade, the FTC reports seeing reduced compliance with its already-established guidelines.
“The letters note that in recent years, paid search results have become less distinguishable as advertising, and the FTC is urging the search industry to make sure the distinction is clear,” the letter reads.
The FTC wants this clarity to impact search results wherever they may be displayed – on one’s home computer, mobile web, social media networks, mobile apps, and more.
“Although the ways in which search engines retrieve and present results, and the devices on which consumers view these results, are constantly evolving, the principles underlying the 2002 Search Engine letter remain the same: consumers ordinarily expect that natural search results are included and ranked based on relevance to a search query, not based on payment from a third party,” the FTC said. “Including or ranking a search result in whole or in part based on payment is a form of advertising.”
To read the full text of the FTC’s letter published this morning, click here.