US Sen. Markey Calls For FTC Investigation Over Google’s “Shared Endorsements”

online privacySenator Ed Markey (D-MA) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to take a closer look at Google’s “Shared Endorsements” ads. On Thursday when the New York Times story discussing the program was published it initially appeared that Google was introducing a new “Sponsored Stories”-like ad unit.

I was confused at first (before talking to Google), as were others. However as we later clarified Shared Endorsements is not a new ad unit. The company was merely expanding the range of social and user-generated content types that could be included in search and display ads.

I was quite critical of the move at first. However since Friday Google has done a good job of notifying people about the change and giving them an opportunity to opt-out (people are unlikely to opt-in to such programs).

Across devices Google has put a prominent notice at the top of its homepage.

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 8.18.44 AM

Opting out is two clicks away. However  the relevant screen is easy to get to and Google offers a straightforward explanation of how the ad unit works and what the implications are of not opting out.

Google Shared Endorsements

Members of the FTC are furloughed and so cannot initiate an investigation right now. Regardless, this is a situation where an FTC investigation may be unwarranted. There isn’t any “deception” going on.

The larger issue of opt-out vs. opt-in is worthy of discussion in a broader context: when do consumers need to opt-in vs. being permitted to opt-out? As mentioned there’s substantial survey based evidence that most consumers would not opt-in to most online advertising programs, which would compromise the ability of publishers and ad networks to serve more targeted ads and maximize revenue.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google | Google: AdSense | Google: Business Issues | Google: Critics | Google: Legal | Legal: Privacy | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn

Marketing Day:

Get the top marketing stories daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. You can read more about our comments policy here.

Comments are closed.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Marketing Land on Twitter @marketingland Like Marketing Land on Facebook Follow Marketing Land on Google+ Subscribe to Our Feed! Join our LinkedIn Group Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Marketing News!

Marketing Day is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!