Are you getting Scroogled?
It's a word invented by Microsoft to describe what it says Google is doing to users of its Google Shopping tool: It rips them off by limiting search results to paid advertisers only. According to Microsoft, the unbiased relevance listings Google Shopping claims to provide are nothing more than paid search results listed according to dollar amount -- not by relevance to the user.
Microsoft has even created a site dedicated to calling Google out on what Microsoft argues are its deceptive search results.
Scroogled.com lays out its argument that Google is cheating. It:
- Identifies the changes to Google's product search results and paid listing/paid ranking search results policies.
- Provides illustrated examples of paid-search shopping ads vs. unpaid product search results.
- Provides links to Bing, the Microsoft-powered search engine.
The site also has a rotating banner listing quotes from Google Founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page disparaging the idea of paid search results. In a separate section on the side of the page are later quotes from Google taking the contrary position.
The site is well-designed, although a bit reminiscent of, as a colleague of mine puts it, a "diet pill and teeth whitening" ad.
The taken tactic is a bit aggressive, in my opinion. Bing's search results aren't completely unbiased; and both Google and Microsoft state they clearly identify sponsored search results in the data they provide end users. In a Wednesday Techcrunch story, Microsoft claimed Google allows merchants to pay for result placement while Bing provides a true search "result." Google described itself as a great resource for shoppers to find what they need at great prices -- completely ignoring the shot that Microsoft placed across its bow.
My recommendation: Take it all with a grain of salt. Scroogled.com is interesting and cute, but before you make any online purchase this holiday season, look around. While Google is the favorite search tool for many, including me, I like my checking account balance a heck of a lot more. Finding the best buy isn't as easy as it used to be and doing more than one search for the gifts you're looking for, via more than one search engine, just might get you the affordable buy you're looking for. Search multiple sources for the best deal you can find from the best, most reputable merchant available and you're likely to get what you want in time for the holidays.