Bing accuses Google Shopping of 'payola' scandal in new 'Scroogled' campaign

Sunday, December 09, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Bing, Google, shopping

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(NaturalNews) Some might call it a case of sour grapes between rival search engine giants, but a closer examination of the facts shows that Microsoft-founded Bing may have caught Google in the act of deceiving both its users and advertisers - again.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. In the beginning, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page took a much more principled approach when it came to the messy business of generating commerce from their creation.

Don't be evil

"...[W]e believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent and in the academic realm," Brin and Page said, in the days before gargantuan stock offerings and investor relations.

"Since it is very difficult even for experts to evaluate search engines, search engine bias is particularly insidious," they said, adding: "This type of bias is much more insidious than advertising, because it is not clear who 'deserves' to be there, and who is willing to pay money to be listed."

And this, from the pair's 2004 founder's IPO (initial public offering) letter, titled, "An Owner's Manual" for Google Shareholders:

Don't be evil. We believe strongly that in the long term, we will be better served-as shareholders and in all other ways-by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short term gains. This is an important aspect of our culture and is broadly shared within the company.

That, as they say, was then.

These days, with shares of Google hovering around $680 apiece, the mega-search engine has much more incentive to sort of conveniently forget the once-principled founding stance against the oft- seedy practice of favoring paying advertisers when displaying search engine results.

Search pages look more like shopping pages

According to Bing's website Scroogled, where this scheme is laid out in detail, what Google appears to be engaged in is the old bait and switch routine. From Google's Commerce blog, first posted in May 2012:

Truly great search is all about turning intentions into actions, lightening fast. In the early days of Google, users would type in a query, we'd return ten blue links, and they'd move on happy. Today people want more. When searching for great local restaurants, people want places to eat right there on the results page, not another click or two away.

Then, the company's real intentions are spelled out fully:

First, we are starting to transition Google Product Search in the U.S. to a purely commercial model built on Product Listing Ads. This new product discovery experience will be called Google Shopping and the transition will be complete this fall [2012].

The new "experience" gives merchants "control over when and where their products appear," via "customer bidding options." According to Google, a merchant's Product Listing Ads appear on both Google Search and Google Shopping. What's more, the ads appear as they are ranked by "bid price."

In the end, Google Search pages tend to look very much like shopping pages, meaning commerce - not true search "relevance" - is driving the top results.

"We say that when you limit choices and rank them by payment, consumers get Scroogled," says the Scroogled website.

A growing history of questionable activities

This isn't the first time Google has been implicated in some shady activity. As we've reported here at Natural News:

-- In October, the Federal Trade Commission was recommending that the government prepare an antitrust lawsuit against Google over charges that the search giant is manipulating search results to favor its own products, making "it harder for competitors and their products to appear prominently on a results page," The New York Times said.

-- The mega-search giant has also been accused of blocking access to all vitamins and natural products for American consumers.

-- Google has conspired with the Food and Drug Administration to block the full Adwords accounts of nutritional supplement companies offering "detox" or "chelation" nutritional products.

-- Though a serial privacy violator, Google has complied with more than 42 percent of censorship requests it has received in recent years from Western governments - from the U.S. government in particular.


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