The Times happily gives over a page lead today to a potentially explosive court case in Australia.
According to Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Google is apparently not doing enough to "expressly distinguish" the difference between paid-for advertising (sponsored links) and natural search results.
[Full ACCC citation here]
How strange. Sponsored links boxes are clearly labelled as such, whether they appear at the top of a page or down the right hand side.
Google has reacted pretty strongly to the action.
"Google Australia believes that these claims are without merit and we will defend against them vigorously. They represent an attack on all search engines and the Australian businesses, large and small, who use them to connect with customers throughout the world."Peter Coroneos, chief executive of the Internet Industry Association, has also waded into the row:
"The internet industry has always had a positive relationship with the ACCC. It's very unfortunate that the ACCC has decided to pursue a litigious strategy against one participant, rather than consulting more broadly on an issue that affects the entire industry."What made the Times report even more interesting was its choice for an image to accompany the story: a screen grab from Google.co.uk, featuring - you guessed it - a travel seach query.
Cheapflights and ThomsonFly came in first and fourth place respectively for sponsored search results and in first and second for organic results. [marks are on the original Times article]
Paul Dolman, CTO and head of paid search at digital marketing agency Spannerworks, who count both Cheapflights and Thomson as clients, was equally dismissive of the claim from Down Under.
In fact, he says, newspapers have been placing ads and editorial (the equivalent of paid-for and natural search in Google) "for centuries".
Kevin May, editor, Travolution
Technorati tags: australia competition consumer