Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Advertising on Search Engines

This is our last week in IMC 619 and we have explored so much in emerging media. From marketing to youths online, to blasting text messages over cell phones to marketing via email, this class provided so much insight in where we are and what’s to come.

A topic that is being discussed this week is ethics. While I believe ethics falls within our own beliefs, there are sometimes that marketers need to watch the line and be careful not to cross it.

The issue we discussed is paid ads on search engines. According to our professor’s lesson this week, the FTC asked these engines to make these paid links more conspicuous when a visitors searches for a subject (Ramos, 2008). Many times when a visitor uses a search engine they are doing their own consumer research. They want to see reports on certain brands of certain products. Whichever brand has paid the highest bid will have their name top the list of search results. However, because it is a paid ad, they are usually placed in shaded area, such as on Google which places paid ads in pink shaded areas at the top of the page or alongside the right hand page in blue. If the reader pays close attention, the description reads like an ad and not merely information that is provided on an unbiased search result.

Are ads like these ethical? I think so. Engines such as Google and Yahoo are complying with the FTC request by distinguishing them a bit differently. Maybe it’s me, but I tend to read search results a bit more closely to make sure it is the information that I am wanting. Search engines provide us with a free service and they need to earn income to support their service, just as television needs to sell advertising to support their broadcasts.

It will be interesting to see if search engines go further and allow banner ads like regular websites for their advertising.

Ramos, J. (2008). Lesson 9: Walking the Line: Ethics in New Media IMC. Retrieved on December 17, 2008, from

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