As you may know, Google recently transitioned to a paid inclusion model for shopping results. The results, tied to Google's Product Listing Ads are collectively known as Google Shopping, which has replaced the Google Product Search of old. Bing, in its latest attack on Google, has launched the "Don't Get Scroogled" campaign in response.
"Merchants must now pay Google to be listed in the shopping results, and how much they pay helps determine how they appear in the rankings, so now every 'result' is really just an ad," a Bing spokesperson tells WebProNews. "Unfortunately most consumers are unaware of this change because the disclaimers are not easily discoverable."
Well, if you spot them from a regular Google search, they do say "sponsored". It is a little less obvious when you go to the actual Google Shopping destination, but that does include a link above the results, which says: "Why these products?" When clicked, the user is presented with text that says, "Products and offers that match your query. Google is compensated by these merchants. Payment is one of several factors used to rank these results."
Nevertheless, Bing says its "Don't Get Scroogled" campaign is designed to "educate" holiday shoppers about Google's "unfair 'pay-to-rank' shopping practices".
"Bing thinks it is important for consumers to trust the search engine they’re relying on will honestly show them the best products and deals, and not the information merchants paid to show up in the results," the Bing spokesperson says. "That’s why Bing is committed to delivering comprehensive, unbiased search results and won’t let paid ads or services affect results."
According to Bing's landing page for the campaign, one who has been "scroogled" may look like this:
And of course, there's a video:
The landing page comes with the following message from Bing:
In the beginning, Google preached, "Don't be evil"—but that changed on May 31, 2012. That's when Google Shopping announced a new initiative. Simply put, all of their shopping results are now paid ads.
In their under-the-radar announcement, Google admits they've now built "a purely commercial model" that delivers listings ranked by "bid price." Google Shopping is nothing more than a list of targeted ads that unsuspecting customers assume are search results. They call these "Product Listing Ads" a "truly great search."
We say that when you limit choices and rank them by payment, consumers get Scroogled. For an honest search result, try Bing.
Don't get Scroogled this holiday season.
It's good to know that Bing found everything Google did until that date to be on the up and up, or at least not completely evil. I'm not sure about the "under the radar" part. Google has made plenty of announcements about the transition. We've covered the product numerous times.
The page also calls on people to vent on Bing's Facebook page about how they've been "scroogled."
The Urban Dictionary has some interesting definitions for the word "scroogled". One is:
"Owned by Google", or "screwed by Google", or even "pwned by Google". The word is created by combining "screwed" and "Google". The meaning implies that Google (its search engine, Gmail, and other services) is constantly spying on its users. Coined by Cory Doctorow in his fiction-story "Scroogled", written for the RADAR magazine (www.radaronline.com).
Another definition from the same source:
What happens when Google Maps takes you to a trailer park with a sign that read "Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again." instead of the Starbucks you had been searching for.
Update: Bing tells us, "It's about Scrooge."
Bing has put up a blog post about the campaign, which says, "In short, we think that too many shoppers who use Google for their shopping searches are getting “Scroogled” when they should be getting fair, honest, open search. It’s like Ebenezer Scrooge met Google Shopping. We think consumers should be aware what they’re seeing when they’re shopping online and to understand, without any hidden text or traps, the fine print of what their ‘search engine’ actually searches."
I'm sure the "screwed" thing never entered their minds.
Do you think Google is Scroogling you?