Google Refutes Claims That Users Can’t Recognize Paid Search Results

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Google Refutes Claims That Users Can’t Recognize Paid Search Results

A Google engineer has refuted claims that most people cannot tell the difference between paid and organic search results.

A recent article on Medium references a study on how many people can recognize search ads.

According to the study:

“More than 50 percent of people between the ages of 18–34 can’t differentiate between an ad and an organic result on Google. For those over 35, that percentage grows proportionally higher.”

The article from Medium was shared on Twitter by a New York Times journalist.

A Google engineer, named Paul Haahr, responded to the tweet saying what was reported is not true.

Mr Jonathan Jones@Jonny_J_

Key point from the article: “More than 50 percent of people between the ages of 18–34 can’t differentiate between an ad and an organic result on Google. To maximize this percentage, Google is always testing to find ad visuals that blend in best with organic results.)”

Paul Haahr@haahr

Key point, but not true from everything I’ve seen, at least from the Search side.

See Paul Haahr’s other Tweets

“Key point, but not true from everything I’ve seen, at least from the Search side.”

In addition, he also defended Google’s advertising practices by saying that most searches contain no ads, and when ads are shown they’re clearly labeled.

“Up to 4 [search results are paid advertisements]. May be none, which it is on most searches, because most are non-commercial. And all ads are labeled as such.”

Other people responded to the Twitter thread disagreeing with the Google engineer.

The consensus seems to be that Google has changed the design of search ads over the years to look more similar to organic results.

Those who work with search engines every day, such as you and I, can obviously distinguish between paid and organic results.

But can the average user tell the difference?

Let us know your thoughts on social media.