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back to article Harvard prof thumps Google for 'tiny' search ads label

Google is now labeling its search ads as "ads" — not "sponsored links." On the surface, this seems an admirable change, but for Harvard professor and noted Google-watcher Ben Edelman, the new label may not adhere to the search-advertising guidelines laid down by the Federal Trade Commission. "When I evaluate disclosures, I tend …

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Pint

Crunchy Frogs

I think it would be more appropriate if the box bore a large red label: "warning lark's vomit."

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Happy

But...

..Sales would plummet!!!!

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Coat

Or even better...

"Stormy Petrel on a Stick"

or

"Gannet Ripple"

... ok, ok, getting my Goat...

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FAIL

Well, of course we need a bigger label

I mean, obviously, the fact that the ad box is pink hardly means anything. I mean, in reality, if Google REALLY wanted to show information, instead of making money, they would make the box bright green, with the phrases "THIS IS AN AD!", "GOOGLE MAKES MONEY OFF THIS!", and "THIS ISN'T ACTUALLY WHAT YOU SEARCHED FOR!!!" in 32 point font, followed by the actual ad, and then repeated afterwards. Also, it needs a mouseover popup that alerts you to the fact that it is an ad, and a loud, unprompted voiceover that says "THIS IS AN AD, NO, NOT THAT, THIS OVER HERE" over and over.

On the other hand, if you are such an idiot that you don't understand the big pink box is an ad, I doubt even that would help.

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FAIL

Of course, you do know that not all ads are in a pink box?

I'm sure ArmanX must be well aware that not all Google ads are in a pink box? And I'm also sure he must be fully aware that some of them are definitely really badly labelled.

Maybe ArmanX was being sarcastic. I suspect not.

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Stop

Every ad in the main column is in a big, pink box.

The ones on the right - you know, the ones no one looks at because they know they are ads - aren't in a big, pink box, but then again, nobody looks at those anyway - and those that do, know they are ads. Because they are always ads.

If you are someone that is easily confused by this, and accidentally clicks an ad instead of another link... you probably won't complain. Chances are you won't know the difference anyway.

Note: if you find an ad in the main column that isn't in a big, pink box, I am quite willing to recant (no funny business with editing on the fly, now!).

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Anonymous Coward

What are ads?

What does 'Ads' mean? Lets ask google itself:

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=define%3Aads

You've got to read a *lot* of bullets to get to anything close to 'abbreviation of advertisement'.

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Happy

What about our sales?

"Our sales would plummet!"

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great point re Google's own definitions

Hi there: Very clever! I'd like to use this, and cite you appropriately. Please send me an email so I know who you are. www.benedelman.org/mail

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FAIL

ArmanX

i wish your post was in light grey 160 x 8 px.

talk about missing the point

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Boffin

Missing the point? Probably.

I guess I think that making a big fuss over someone not putting "Advertisement" in a big font on a clearly delineated advertisement is just silly. I know it's an ad; you know it's an ad; my grandma knows it's an ad. The only people that don't know it's an ad, don't care that it's an ad, because they haven't been on the Internet long enough to know the difference. No amount of labeling will change that.

I'd really like to know what the fuss is all about... is everyone worried that Google will get paid because someone clicked a link they didn't realize was an advertisement? "[D]isclosures should be both 'clear' and 'conspicuous'" - well, I find large pink boxes and rigid placement to be fairly clear and conspicuous. Do others not? Who doesn't know that those links are advertisements?

Scientist, because I may be over thinking this...

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Joke

Been doing it for years?

It's been published in grey text on a grey background for years.

Can't explain why nobody reads it.

We used to do white text on a white background but wanted the content to be more obvious so went for grey on grey.

If we have to we will use black bold text on a black background just to be sure.

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FAIL

Ads?

Wouldn't it be considered that "Ads" is something of a colloquial term, especially for people who may not be native English speakers, or various linguistic difficulties? Talking of difficulties, I am having difficulties in understanding what was wrong with "Sponsored Links". It was pretty clear, while "Ads" (easily missable at just three letters) is not so clear, especially when looking up "ads" will show the correct definition AFTER a selection of other definitions. Try http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ads and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADS - hey, maybe these links in the pink box are a good thing - Ads means Automated Decision Support, right? So I search for <blah> and up comes my answers...

Sorry Google, fail icon, for as much as you are trying to make the search system simpler, you have just killed Clarity. Please fix.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Ads?

Never mind the non-native English speakers.

I remember many moons gone a whole load of billboards prominantly displaying: "ASA: KEEPING TABS ON ADS."

I used to drive past one every day. After a few weeks I got off my arse and did some research to find out WTF it meant. After spending bloody ages trying to find out exactly what "ADS" was, next time I drove that way I stopped the car, got out and saw that the smaller print referred to the Advertising Standards Agency. Gosh I felt like such a pillock when the true meaning of "ADS" dawned on me a moment later......

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@ TeeCee

'tis okay. Many moons ago we didn't have http://www.urbandictionary.com/ which is where I go to look up unfamiliar words and acronyms. And some of the definitions are quite amusing too.

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Why tf do I need a title?

"Ads" is better than "sponsored links" for the same reason that "bullshit" is better than "terminological inexactetude" and "I lied" is better than "I misspoke myself". Of course "Advertisement" is even better, but we need to be grateful for small improvements.

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Oh, Haaaaarvard?

After the less than stellar performances of Larry Lessig and Gary Pisano recently, hasn't the polish worn off that turd a bit?

I had the pleasure of working for a Harvard MBA who couldn't find his arse with both hands, a mirror, an anatomy chart, and an Automatic Arse Finding Machine. Let's not say it like it's something special.

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Joke

Ads?

I remember those...they used to exist in the days before Adblock & scriptblock...

I'm freeloading the ad/bandwidth gravy train FTW!

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where?

I thought I'd take a look but spent ages hunting for it and thinking it must be really small. Then I remembered..... Adblock Plus

Truth be told though I've developed "ad blindness" even when using machines that show them and somehow just mentally filter them out without thinking about it.

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What a waste

How did you manage to get a whole article on font size?

That's absolutely ridiculous.

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Joke

Yeah! Yeah!

Where's the IT Angle?!

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FAIL

I keep is simple

I'd never click a sponsored link, i dont buy from online ads, i never open emails matked "special offer"

I dont really care whether it's viagra or gold at £2.00 per kilo, i still wont follow a link that someone gets paid for me following...I wanted XYZ, why should someone profit from my looking for it? Do Tesco charge me to browse their shelves?

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When you're at Tesco...

have you ever bought anything on impulse? Something that wasn't on your shopping list?

And actually, Tesco gets paid by the manufacturers to place items in particular locations and/or at specific heights, so: yes, the increase in price from the manufactuer is passed on to you by Tesco, and every other retailer.

On a different note, I always wondered how much advertising actually contributes to sales. It would be interesting to see how sales of, for example, Coca-Cola would be impacted by NOT running advertisements, anywhere, for 30 days. Does anyone know if this has been tested?

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