Washington, D.C.—The Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning to search engine companies about what it considers a blurring of the lines distinguishing paid search ads from organic search results.
In a letter
sent to Microsoft Corp.'s Bing search engine, Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc., as well as a number of search sites that focus on niche interests, Mary K. Engle, associate director-advertising practices at the FTC, wrote: “To avoid the potential for deception, consumers should be able to easily distinguish a natural search result from advertising that a search engine delivers.”
Engle said too many searchers do not recognize the difference between paid search ads and organic results. She said all compensated search results should have labels that clearly distinguish them from organic, noncompensated results.