Getting Dogged by Paid Search Placement?

I’m heading out of town this week and needed to find a local doggy daycare and multi-day accommodations for my beagle-mix, Elvis.

So, like most people these days, I did a Google search for dog care centers in the Rockville, MD area to get some recommendations. I was surprised to see that the top “natural” result as well as the top paid result, via sponsored link, were both for the same care facility.

Of course, after seeing an ad for Ana’s Ark, a local dog kennel, as well as a “natural” search result that listed it at the top, I checked it out. I ended up visiting the facility and ultimately booked Elvis there. Another nice marketing move on the part of the facility was to offer a live doggie webcam so we can watch our dog if we want to. Sold.

From a marketing ethics perspective, I read where over 60% of adults have difficulty determining the difference between paid advertising and natural search results. This number seemed high to me, though, I guess it’s possible as different search engines distinguish paid ads and placement versus natural. I also feel that as younger generations mature, this number will drop significantly. Digital natives most likely can determine paid placement versus normal search results without much issue.

It is up to marketers to use good judgment in helping the current generation of consumers to determine paid versus unpaid. While ad revenue is what keeps engines going and benefits consumers just as TV ads help to keep TV rates in check, being sure that such “advertorial” type of content is distinguishable so that consumers can make their own choices is important.

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