Sometimes, as geeks, we forget how the non-geek mind works. Things we take for granted as being obvious aren’t always so to the untrained eye. Yes, when most of us who live on the Internet perform a search on Google, we know without even thinking what is sponsored and what is not. Most of us probably won’t even see the ads in front of us, aside form the habitual scan for competitors when performing queries that might relate to our own sites.
I, and possibly a few of you as well, have some non-geek friends. Actually, most of my friends are not what I would call technically savvy. Some I would even go as far to refer to as technically challenged, but most can at least find what they are looking for when using Google to look things up. However, I have found that even some of the more experienced users I deal with have no clue what are AdWords and what are SERPS.
Being one of the most technically oriented people of the friends I hang out with, when one of them has a problem it is often times me they will call looking for help. Personally, I think that if someone is infected with spyware, and you tell them to go to Google and search for Spybot Search & Destroy, the #1 Free Anti-Spyware Product there is, that you really shouldn’t have to worry about them clicking on an ad and getting an inferior product that expects them to pay for it:
Now, lest we forget, let’s look at Matt’s exact statement again:
“Are users also eager to see sponsored link posts ahead of all other results as well?”
Lisa, we do think of ads as a type of search and try to show the most relevant ads we can (not just the ones where the advertiser is willing to pay the most). We also apply relevancy tests on whether to show ads on the top vs. the side, so that we only promote ads from the right-hand side to the top slot if we think that they’re very useful.
So… according to Matt, I get to have the following conversations because it is “very useful” to promote substandard paid tools above the superior free ones:
Friend: Yeah, dude, something’s wrong with my computer. I have all these porn ads showing when I search for stuff like motor oil.
Michael: Oh, bro, it sounds like spyware. Go to Google and search for Spybot Search and Destroy, that should do it. If not call me back.
Friend: Is it expensive?
Michael: No, it’s free.
Friend: Kewl, thanks man!
2 hours later…
Friend: He, it’s me again. I ran it, it says it found 200,000 instances of spyware! Things is, now it wants a credit card. I thought you said it was free?
I call bullshit.