The FTC and the Future of PPC
June 26, 2013
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission recently announced that they will be cracking down on Google and internet search providers to distinguish ads more clearly from organic search results. The FTC said that failing to do so could be a “deceptive practice.” The FTC stated that although Google and other providers are displaying ads more prominently, they are doing less to actually highlight the ads. So what will this mean for Google AdWords?
Currently, Google AdWords pay-per-click (PPC) ads appear with a shaded background at the top and bottom of search result pages or in a column on the right-hand side. Although it may seem apparent to a lot of users that these are in fact ads, studies have shown that 45.5% of people cannot distinguish Google paid ads from organic search results. Google AdWords campaigns continue to be a proven and highly effective way of online advertising. AdWords ad campaigns can be tailored to target local or global markets and advertisers only pay when the ad is clicked on.
In my approximation, I don’t see the increased visibility impacting Google AdWords too much. Certainly the percentage of people who can’t tell the difference between ads and organic search results will decrease but AdWords will still remain a viable medium for website marketing. Of course, how much this number decreases will most certainly depend on how much more prominently the PPC ads are highlighted.
One final note—a question I get asked frequently in my line of work is whether Google AdWords ads are good for bolstering organic keyword search results. Unfortunately, Google has stated that this is not the case. AdWords and Google organic search results are pulled from two entirely different databases. That said, a PPC campaign can be a great way to supplement an organic SEO campaign by driving traffic and sales.