Advertisement Labeling - Research Index
Benjamin Edelman

This page indexes and summarizes my research on advertisement labeling.


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Other Research by Ben Edelman

"Sponsored Links" or "Advertisements"?: Measuring Labeling Alternatives in Internet Search Engines
Benjamin Edelman and Duncan S. Gilchrist - Information Economics and Policy 24 (2012) - draft first posted November 9, 2010

In an online experiment, we measure users' interactions with search engines, both in standard configurations and in modified versions with clearer labels identifying search engine advertisements. In particular, for a random subset of users, we change "Sponsored links" or "Ads" labels to instead read "Paid Advertisements." Relative to users receiving the "Sponsored link" or "Ad" labels, users receiving the "Paid Advertisement" label click 25% and 27% fewer advertisements, respectively. Users seeing "Paid Advertisement" labels also correctly report that they click fewer advertisements, controlling for the number of advertisements they actually click. Results are most pronounced for commercial searches, and for vulnerable users with low education and little online experience.

A Closer Look at Google's Advertisement Labels
Benjamin Edelman - posted November 10, 2010

The FTC has called for "clear and conspicuous disclosures" in search engine's advertisement labels, and the FTC specifically emphasized the need for “terms and a format that are easy for consumers to understand.” Google's advertisement labels probably do not meet this standard: Google's "Ads" label is the smallest text on the page, easily overlooked; Google's algorithmic and advertisement results are merged within a single set of listings; Google's "Help" explanations are inaccurate; and Google uses inconsistent labels mere inches apart within search results, as well as across services.

Advertising Disclosures in Online Apartment Search
Benjamin Edelman and Paul Kominers - posted January 25, 2012

We examine leading online apartment search services and evaluate the disclosures associated with their paid listings. We find paid placement and paid inclusion listings at each site, but disclosures range from limited to nonexistent. Where disclosures exist, they are largely hidden behind multiple intermediate pages, effectively invisible to most users. We propose specific ways these sites could improve their disclosures, and we flag their duties under existing law.

Google's Advertising Labels in 2014
Benjamin Edelman - posted October 13, 2014

While FTC guidelines call for "clear" and "prominent" visual cues to separate advertisements from algorithmic results, Google has moved in the opposite direction -- eliminating distinctive colors that previously helped distinguish advertisements from other search results.


Last Updated: October 13, 2014.
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