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WebSage
11-09-2004, 01:29 PM
A new report on the credibility of search engines called "Searching for Disclosure: How Search Engines Alert Consumers to the Presence of Advertising in Search Results" (PDF, 2.8MB) (http://www.consumerwebwatch.org/news/paidsearch/finalreport.pdf) and released by ConsumerWebWatch examines how search engines explain business relationships with advertisers to their users. The study evaluated the compliance of 15 major search engines with the FTC’s guidelines on disclosing paid sponsorship of search results.

The report revealed that "most major search engines have made some efforts to satisfy the FTC’s recommendations on disclosing paid results, but compliance varied widely, leaving ample room for improvement throughout the industry. While some sites diligently disclose and explain their business relationships, others appear to obscure the presence of advertising within search results. Because of the demonstrable importance consumers place on the integrity and transparency of search results, the industry needs to enhance the effectiveness of disclosures to ensure they are noticed and understood by users. If not, search engines risk losing their credibility with consumers."