FTC issues new edict to search engines over ads

FTC issues new edict to search engines over ads

Summary: The FTC has issued some new rules regarding online advertising to make things clearer for consumers.


The Federal Trade Commission has issued some new and stricter guidelines to search engine providers in order to protect consumers.

Specifically, the FTC is ordering that search engines need to do a better job of distinguishing search results from paid online advertising.

Here's an excerpt from the order published on Tuesday afternoon:

According to both the FTC staff’s original search engine guidance and the updated guidance, failing to clearly and prominently distinguish advertising from natural search results could be a deceptive practice. The updated guidance emphasizes the need for visual cues, labels, or other techniques to effectively distinguish advertisements, in order to avoid misleading consumers, and it makes recommendations for ensuring that disclosures commonly used to identify advertising are noticeable and understandable to consumers.

The FTC has directed the order at both "general-purpose" search engines as well as 17 of the "most heavily trafficked" when it comes to popular online consumer concerns: shopping, travel and local.

Those general purpose search providers consist of AOL, Ask.com, Microsoft's Bing, Blekko, DuckDuckGo, Google, and Yahoo.

This new search and advertising edict follows up an ongoing drama with Google over the Internet giant's search and online advertising practices.

Earlier this year, the FTC handed down a full bag of decisions in its antitrust investigation of the Mountain View, Calif.-based company.

Notably, the FTC has stipulated that "Google has agreed to remove restrictions on the use of its online search advertising platform, AdWords, that may make it more difficult for advertisers to coordinate online advertising campaigns across multiple platforms."

Google had agreed to comply with all of the FTC's demanded changes.

However, that hasn't put Google's antitrust legal issues to rest either in Europe or the United States.

Just this week, Mountain View confirmed its $1.1bn acquisition of social mapping company Waze is now under review by the FTC

Topics: Government US, Google, Legal, Tech Industry

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  • WTH does the FTC get its authority

    to just toss around edicts on whatever it likes?
    • Internet is basically InterState Commerce (especially Ads) ...

      FTC is allowed to regulate Interstate Commerce. All they are doing is requiring them to better distinguish between a search engine result found that would likely be the closest match to some search, and a paid ad that might match the search. I don't have a problem with that.
  • All google results are ads

    I've quit using google because they only let you find what they want you to see and bury everything they don't want you to see.

    They have a clear political agenda and are using thier popularity to control what information is seen by the masses.

    Put simply, they want to think for you instead of letting you make informed descisions.
    • Re: "All google results are ads" Oh really?

      Got some evidence for that? I didn't think so.
      • Got any evidence to the contrary?

        I didn't think so.

        I wouldn't say all results are "ads", I will say that the amount of money spent on Google advertising will influence your placement in organic results.

        If you are smart enough you can easily confirm this on your own.