Are You Being Scroogled? (Bing’s Ad Campaign and Google’s Changes)

Scroogled Ad Block as seen while blog-browsing this morning. Not an actual ad placement.
So as often happens around 4:00 AM when I can’t sleep, I make a cup of coffee and I read blogs and sift through my feed reader and just sort of hang out because everyone is going to start getting up soon anyway and there’s no point staring at my ceiling for the next hour or so.

So I’m browsing along, reading interesting little tidbits, leaving witty comments, so on and so forth… when I see an ad that I actually *click* on! Crazy right?

This SCROOGLED ad block showed up in a sidebar and it caught my eye. Now, you know as well as I do that when you’re looking at blogs all day long, when you’re used to placing ads yourself, that whole “ad blindness” phenomenon starts to happen and you just don’t see the flashing lights and the big bold words anymore.

Within seconds of clicking the ad block I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh, I just cost someone an ad click fee and I just made someone a handful of change in their publisher account. Interesting….” and then I took a screenshot and started writing this blog post, because I’m geeky like that at 4:00 in the morning.

Why did I click the ad?

Well, “Scroogled” is a funny little term and it sort of made me laugh. That could be just because it’s early in the morning and I’ve had no sleep, I’m easily amused sometimes. Then there’s the notion of Google selling their shopping results to the highest bidder, and interesting topic of discussion lately if you’re promoting any physical products as an affiliate for the holiday season – seemed worthy of checking out what Bing had to say.

What happened when I clicked the ad?

A beautifully bright and intriguing page came up and it admittedly had my attention for awhile before I got over here to write about it….

A quote from the page about what it means to be Scroogled this holiday shopping season…

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.”

The things that I noticed are marked in that screenshot with numbers in the order I noticed them so that I can talk about them a tiny bit here…

1. The scrolling “Scroogled Alert” flashing across the top of the page rolls across every 30 seconds or minute or so with a different quote in regards to the Google shopping results…

Close up of Scroogled Alert

2. Share it with a friend … oh wait no, that says WARN a friend. Where we would normally say “Share this with a friend” next to the Facebook and Twitter icons on the page it uses the phrase “Warn your friends now,” and I think that change of phrasing is a powerful one in this instance. You want to be a good friend, you don’t want your friends to overpay for holiday gifts because the search engine they used gave them overpriced results…. you want to click the button.

The Scroogle Tweet if You Click the Twitter Icon

3.Try Bing >> Make Bing Your Homepage >> ~ pretty self explanatory there and those are nice big buttons to encourage you to make a switch and hang out with Bing for awhile.

4.You can’t tell in the screenshot, but that white arrow in the bottom right corner bounces up and down and really says “hey you, look over here, there’s more, there’s more” … so of course I clicked it. When you click it the whole page shifts down to another bright and beautiful page all about sharing and telling your friends. The side of the second page encourages you to share stories of “getting Scroogled” on Bing’s Facebook page and the center has a sharable video all about it…

5. Back to the original page for the 5th item on the list, that sidebar looking area is titled “From Google to Scroogle” and lists quotes from Google in 2004 about never accepting money for higher placement to 2012 where they say ads are just more answers for their users anyway. There’s also a link to download comparison PDFs on How Google Does It vs Bing’s Position. (I didn’t download or look at the PDFs, but I liked the idea of comparison.)

Side note… if you click on the little info “i” at the end of the word Scroogled on the page you get a dictionary style definition pop up, complete with audio option:

Scroogled (skr-oo-gulld)verb
1. The Google practice of selling their shopping search results to a high bidder; known to produce intense anger in online shoppers who might miss out on the best price or the highest quality items.

2. Because Google Shopping only includes results from advertisers who pay them, some of the world’s largest retailers aren’t included.

3. The loss of money associated with a bad Google Shopping search result. Side effects of not getting the best price when you thought you were include sadness, frustration and overall indignation.

See also: bamboozled; befuddled; duped; flimflammed; hoodwinked; hornswoggled

Sample sentence: “These jeans were a top pick on Google but I found a better price–I’ve been Scroogled!”

Resources and more links to read about this whole Scroogled topic….

You’ll notice that the shopping listings do have a light blue box outline that indicates they are sponsored results, so it is being disclosed. However, to an average searcher or internet user that little “sponsored” doesn’t really mean much , if they even notice it at all.

You might think that once you click into the main shopping section where you can sort by relevance and other factors that you’ll be getting “real” results. But that’s where Bing points out that you’re getting “Scroogled” … payment for positioning is one of the factors determining “relevance” of the products listings you’re served. To Google’s credit, they do disclose that fact if you click on the “Why these products?” underneath the sorting drop down.

actual search I did in Google Shopping

In case you can’t see that little box that pops up … it 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.

And to wrap it up and go start making breakfast for the boys

So there you have it … an ad that got my attention, why I clicked on it, what kept my attention once I arrived, and what I learned during the whole thing… both in terms of the webpage creation, powerful word phrasing, and about this whole shopping results thing and how the highest paid bidder gets to be “the most relevant” …. None of this is breaking news, I’m probably way late to the party on reading about this and learning more – that’s my own fault for not staying on top of things.

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