Google has made it more difficult, at first look, to differentiate between advertising and organic search results over the years. The sole difference between the two, when consumers search, is that "Ad" is printed in bold, which is easy to miss. In its present version, this is the only distinction between the two.
Today, the leader in search is making a small change to this by changing the word "Ad" to "Sponsored" and making it bold next to ads that appear in search results. Also, as has been done before, the label will be moved to a separate line above the site's URL instead of being shown next to the URL.
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When Will The Testing Begin?
Google has said it would begin testing these improvements on the desktop but has not provided a timetable for when this testing will begin. At the moment, Google is in the process of gradually rolling out this upgrade across mobile.
Google stated in a statement that "this new label and its prominent position continues to meet our high standards for being distinguishable from search results and builds on our existing efforts to make information about paid content clear." The company also said that "this new label and its prominent position continue to meet our high standards for standing out from search results."
If you are reading this article and comparing the previous version with the current one, you will see that the word "Ad" has been changed to "Sponsered." On the other hand, while you're using it in your day-to-day life and reading through hundreds of search results, you probably won't have these improvements in mind. But even with these changes, people may still find it hard to tell the difference between ads and real search results.
The graphic history of the company's ad labelling has been tweeted several times by Ginny Marvin, the Ads Product Liaison for Google. Even if the tweet below only records developments up to 2019, it is not difficult to see how Google has gradually blurred the borders between advertisements and search results.
Google’s ‘Ad’ Placement Journey
When Google added the bold "Ad" label in 2020, many people pointed out that the dark patterns in this design change made it hard for people to tell the difference between paid and unpaid content without squinting. However, the corporation was finally able to implement some form of change after two years.
Google's primary source of revenue is advertising. While the second quarter of 2022, the company made $56.3 billion from advertising. Because of this, the search giant needs to keep making money from that channel in different ways. Because Google has such a big share of the online marketing and advertising industry, several watchdog groups are considering doing an antitrust investigation into the company's online advertising business.
Other Changes Planned By Google
Google is going to change the ad labels, and it is also going to start displaying the names of websites in the search results. Before this update, the only thing that appeared in the search results were URLs, which made it difficult to recognise some websites. In addition, it emphasises the prominence of website favicons, allowing visitors to identify recognised site logos more readily. The company has expressed it will also make similar ad changes to be more honest with customers.
Featured image: Google
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