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Wanadoo Criticised For Search Results

Posted: 16th Jun, 2004 By: MarkJ
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against Wanadoo (referred to as Freeserve on the site) regarding the providers search engine results, which are ranked by how much sponsors paid and not relevance:

The complainant objected that the search results summary did not make clear that the results were sponsored links and that they were ranked according to the amount of money sponsors paid, not according to their relevance to the search term.

The Authority noted each sponsored link had a hyperlink to an explanatory pop-up box and sponsored links were identified by the Overture hyperlink. Because sponsored links were not clearly identified by a headline or title, and the search page did not contain an explanation of the purpose of the hyperlink, the Authority considered that consumers were unlikely to realise that the Overture hyperlink indicated that results were sponsored and concluded that consumers could be misled. It asked Freeserve to ensure that sponsored links were clearly identified in future.
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