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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Snap’s Separation of Organic Results and Ads

Milly in the forum discussed the lack of separation of ads and organic search results at the relaunched (disclosure: I’m running an ad campaign by Snap.). I think he’s she’s right; while Snap is doing some interesting Ajax-ish things (like live previews), they also don’t use distinctive colors for their ads, and they use an incremental numbering for their ads + organic results, which is likely to be confusing to most searchers (e.g. on a search for spyware). I wouldn’t want the same to happen with Google, for instance.

Snap on their help page says:

So while on the surface it might seem counter-intuitive or even a little deceptive to combine paid and organic listings, we think it turns out to be far better for both the user and, where there are paid listings, for the advertiser as well.

I disagree – in general I think the more a search engine separates ads from organic results, the more trustworthy they are. I do believe separation of content and ads isn’t a black-and-white thing but a line along a continuum; Google in the past increased the resemblance of their ads and their organic results – they got rid of a unique ad color and started to use the same font size as in organic results – but I believe Google so far didn’t cross a line (and Yahoo and MSN started to get on the right track). What do you all think?


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