Google’s Curious Defense Continues to Scroogle Consumers

It’s been 10 days since we highlighted to consumers Google Shopping’s pay-to-rank practice and challenged them to change their policies. To date, Google’s only response to the concerns highlighted by the Scroogled effort had been to avoid addressing the issue at-hand and praise their shopping service. Finally, according to a report from Politico’s Dec. 6th edition of Morning Tech, Google responded directly to the issues we raised. What we find curious, however, is what Google said. Instead of owning up to consumers about their pay-to-rank policy, Google delivered a misleading and inaccurate statement.

Google told Politico:

Google contends that it clearly labels the search results on the shopping service, which comes with a disclaimer that “Google is compensated by some of these merchants.” “Our new paid Google Shopping results are ranked first and foremost by relevance, are clearly labeled as sponsored, and are clearly separated from our unpaid search results,” a Google spokesman said.

Here are the facts:

First, from Google: “Starting on October 17, Google Shopping results in the US will come only from merchants who are Product Listing Ads advertisers. We will be ranking these results based on relevance, with bidding as an additional factor.” That means that all of the listings on Google Shopping are now paid ads and payment is a factor in the ranking and “relevance”.  As Google themselves have said, payment playing a part in determining relevance is at odds with the core principles of objective search.

Second, to the casual observer, the statement that Google Shopping results “are clearly labeled as sponsored, and are clearly separated from our unpaid search results” makes it look as if there are both paid and unpaid results within Google Shopping. There are no unpaid Google Shopping results.  Google Shopping results are all ads and that, by their own admission, “Google is compensated” by all of the merchants – not by “some of these merchants” as they said in their Politico statement.

As we’ve said before, we think it is important consumers are aware of Google Shopping’s pay-to-rank practice and have a clear understanding of what exactly they’re seeing when using Google Shopping. Again, we urge Google to change their practice and do the right thing by consumers.

– The Bing Team

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7 comments
  1. mathieuluclefrancois

    This is the most stupid campaign ever. How about you focus on your own merits rather than trying to bring down your competitor with an allegation that nobody cares about anyway.

  2. NeverGoogle

    To you "mathieuluclefrancois" I say, since when is educating the public about anything stupid? This campaign is NOT stupid. If you don't like Microsoft or Bing, then you should just say that instead of attacking this campaign by saying it is stupid. Your post shows lack of thought and analysis. Also this is not an "allegation" as you are stating, it is a fact that Bing has proven with Google's own words. The part of your post that I agree with is that "nobody cares" about this.

  3. aminey

    The comment from "mathieuluclefrancois" shows that there are people who see this as a trick to get market share when it should be seen for what it is and that is to highlight Google starting to abuse it's market leading position to make money and leave consumers worse off because as I have found with my websites in Google's search results I am top 10 and in Bing Yahoo and every other search engine I am number 1. What is the difference, all those above me in Google use adwords, which seems to make up for poor SEO and page ranking.

  4. aminey

    The comment from "mathieuluclefrancois" shows that there are people who see this as a trick to get market share when it should be seen for what it is and that is to highlight Google starting to abuse it's market leading position to make money and leave consumers worse off because as I have found with my websites in Google's search results I am top 10 and in Bing Yahoo and every other search engine I am number 1. What is the difference, all those above me in Google use adwords, which seems to make up for poor SEO and page ranking.

  5. aminey

    The comment from "mathieuluclefrancois" shows that there are people who see this as a trick to get market share when it should be seen for what it is and that is to highlight Google starting to abuse it's market leading position to make money and leave consumers worse off because as I have found with my websites in Google's search results I am top 10 and in Bing Yahoo and every other search engine I am number 1. What is the difference, all those above me in Google use adwords, which seems to make up for poor SEO and page ranking.

  6. aminey

    The comment from "mathieuluclefrancois" shows that there are people who see this as a trick to get market share when it should be seen for what it is and that is to highlight Google starting to abuse it's market leading position to make money and leave consumers worse off because as I have found with my websites in Google's search results I am top 10 and in Bing Yahoo and every other search engine I am number 1. What is the difference, all those above me in Google use adwords, which seems to make up for poor SEO and page ranking.

  7. aminey

    The comment from "mathieuluclefrancois" shows that there are people who see this as a trick to get market share when it should be seen for what it is and that is to highlight Google starting to abuse it's market leading position to make money and leave consumers worse off because as I have found with my websites in Google's search results I am top 10 and in Bing Yahoo and every other search engine I am number 1. What is the difference, all those above me in Google use adwords, which seems to make up for poor SEO and page ranking.

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