The ads in the search results of all the three major search engines Google, Yahoo and Bing are the major sources of income for all the three. Recently there have been complaints by the users, SEOs & marketing communities about all the three search engines taking advantage of the search ads by filling in most part of the first fold in their search results on both desktop & mobile with ads and by not caring much about the users & the natural or organic search results. The search engines also seems to be involved in disguising the users, making it difficult for them to distinguish the ads and the organic search results. Search Engine Land recently wrote an article about how the background color of the search ads in Bing on both desktop and mobile is becoming lighter & lighter everyday (Shading visibility) making it difficult for the users to differentiate between the ads & the organic search results when compared to the other two major search engines Google & Yahoo! In an interesting development, Corporate Vice President of Bing Program Management at Microsoft, Derrick Connel followed up with Danny Sullivan on Facebook to say the following:
As a small comment on Bing — the ads have 2 design elements for mainline ads. We have the background shading and a line on the right. We added the line as a design element to help users understand where mainline ads starts and ends. Your point about background shading varying by screen is right. Given background colors show up differently on various screens we felt this was a good user feature. It tested very well for usability.
Yes Bing finally seems to be taking steps to differentiate the search ads as Connel said, the screenshot below shows a thin & a light colored line differentiating the ads on the main stream with the ads or related searches on the right hand side.
What route will the other search engines take to differentiate the search ads from the organic search results on both desktop & mobile will be interesting to see. Bing being part of what is so called Fair Search Community and infamously known for its scroogled campaign against Google’s Ads should have been a bit more cautious and careful. They must definitely remember one thing, its always “easy to be said than done.”