Feeds

FTC turns screws on Payola search

Search engine vendors told to clean up act

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Federal regulators in the US have determined that several Internet-search engines are not properly informing Internet consumers when certain advertisers pay for a prominent placement in search results - which can give them a competitive "eyeball" advantage, unfair or otherwise.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is asking companies that maintain search engine sites to review their respective Websites to ensure that "any paid ranking search results are distinguished from non-paid results with clear and conspicuous disclosures". The FTC also made a similar recommendation for search engine service providers that offer "paid inclusion", a similar feature in which search engines freely mingle paid-listings with search results that are not paid.

Paid search results are an increasingly common form of advertising on the Internet. However it is still unclear to many Internet consumers whether the search results they get are promotions or gathered through more objective means such as automatic indexing technologies. A survey by the advocacy group Consumers Union found that 60% of Internet users were oblivious to the fact that certain search engines received fees to feature some Websites more prominently.

The recommendations can be seen as a delayed reaction to a complaint that was filed in July 2001 by a Portland, Oregon-based consumer-advocacy group called Commercial Alert, which asked the FTC to investigate whether several search sites were engaging in unfair or deceptive practices. The search sites under the spotlight included: AOL Time Warner Inc, Microsoft Corp, Ask Jeeves Inc's Direct Hit Technologies, iWon Inc, CMGI Inc's AltaVista Co, LookSmart (LOOK) Ltd, and Terra Lycos SA.

While the FTC's recommendations do not carry any legal compliance requirement, it can be seen as a first step towards cleaning up some of the dubious practices being followed by search engine firms by pushing them to delineate paid listings from search results.

© ComputerWire

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.