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Google: The advertising chameleon may finally show its true colors

Published December 3, 2013 at 4:13 pm

When it comes to its own brand name, Google is famously amorphous, using the “Google doodle” as a chance to spotlight whatever holiday or important historical event it feels like acknowledging.

But there’s another aspect of its service in which it has become prolific: stealth advertising. Not just its own, but the promotion of sponsored links to the top of Google searches. Now, however, the company is supposedly moving forward with a system of some more transparency, according to Search Engine Watch.

This new addition to the AdWords style will display the word “Ad” on a clearly visible yellow tag attached to any ad link, theoretically allowing anyone browsing to have a much better chance of telling the “real” non-ad search results from these others. As the SEW writer Jennifer Slegg writes, this is really most likely all about the kind of click through rate (also known as CTR) that advertisers are likely to get.

“There are people who are concerned, particularly pay-per-click advertisers, that labeled ads will have a lower CTR, but with it being a limited test, it will be extremely difficult for advertisers to determine if the new labels are increasing or decreasing CTR until it goes 100 percent live across all searches,” Slegg writes.

So it’s not just about the kind of ads that you make, but the places they are displayed and the way that your potential customer is able to distinguish them as such. After all, if they can’t even tell that you’re trying to advertise at all, what’s to get them interested in what you have to say?

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