FTC issues new edict to search engines over ads

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