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The Real Deal: Google Shopping Results

ALBANYAre Google's shopping results deceptive?  According to a consumer watchdog group they're nothing more than advertisements for the highest bidding online retailers.  The group has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
 
The way most of us do research these days is to type it into Google.  Take for instance, shopping for a new TV.  When you type "LCD TV" into Google, up pops a number of sponsored ads on top of the page, pictures of sponsored ads on the side panel and more sponsored ads below that.  "They're making the amount that's not sponsored smaller and smaller," says Larry Zimbler of Liberteks in Albany and that's what Consumer Watchdog has complained to the FTC about.  The non-profit thinks Google is being deceptive, especially because often the sponsored ads aren't offering customers the best deal on a particular product.
 
"They've changed the system so much, there's got to be some level of confusion especially now because you're going to see those ads within your applications that you have when you run something on a phone or tablet now too," Zimbler says.  So, how can you make sure you're not being misled?  Zimbler recommends using the same set of key words in a few different search engines when you're comparing prices online.  You may also want to do your comparisons a few times on a few different days.  Always look for small icons in the upper corner of a search labeled "sponsored" before you click because even if you don't buy, chances are Google is getting paid anyway, "they're billing the advertiser directly for you seeing the ad, or clicking the ad or both," Zimbler says.