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ᴊᴏʜɴɴʏ ᴍᴀᴋᴇs 📟
Google have changed their search results design, but it's not good news... Why Google's new search results design is a dark pattern (a thread) 👇
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ᴊᴏʜɴɴʏ ᴍᴀᴋᴇs 📟 Jan 18
Replying to @johnny_makes
Humans are self-training machines, and in the context of the internet, we've trained ourselves to ignore the intrusive adverts which increasingly clutter our screens. If something looks vaguely like an advert, we don't even look at it – a behaviour known as 'banner blindness'.
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ᴊᴏʜɴɴʏ ᴍᴀᴋᴇs 📟 Jan 18
Replying to @johnny_makes
In the context of Google results, often we skim past ad search results because they are the least likely to be relevant on the page (they're having to pay to be there, after all...) But what happens if you can't tell which is which anymore?
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ᴊᴏʜɴɴʏ ᴍᴀᴋᴇs 📟 Jan 18
Replying to @johnny_makes
The latest Google search UI redesign sneakily tries to hack that behaviour by subverting how we quickly scan to see if something is an ad or a genuine result. Where once only adverts had an icon to differentiate them, now there are favicons in the same slot on all other results
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ᴊᴏʜɴɴʏ ᴍᴀᴋᴇs 📟 Jan 18
Replying to @johnny_makes
Why do this? By putting something visually similar in every slot which previously signalled an ad, it becomes impossible for a user to tell them apart without taking care and effort. Google can still say they label adverts, but that info is now buried under more visual noise.
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ᴊᴏʜɴɴʏ ᴍᴀᴋᴇs 📟 Jan 18
Replying to @johnny_makes
The real outcome? Increased advert density in search – ads can now be scattered at various positions in the results, and Google can substantially boost the number of paid results per page... without it being obvious.
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ᴊᴏʜɴɴʏ ᴍᴀᴋᴇs 📟 Jan 18
Replying to @johnny_makes
In this one example, where I just searched 'socks' 🤷‍♂️ the ratio of adverts to text results was ~3:4 Considering that Google once differentiated itself with a clear, minimal UI, it seems that user experience is taking a hit here in pursuit of deeper monetisation of search results
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ᴊᴏʜɴɴʏ ᴍᴀᴋᴇs 📟 Jan 18
Replying to @johnny_makes
Google claims that the new format "puts a site’s brand front & center". But if that was the rationale... ...wouldn't it ALSO make sense to do the same for adverts too – who are paying money specifically for brand awareness? 🤔
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ᴊᴏʜɴɴʏ ᴍᴀᴋᴇs 📟 Jan 18
Replying to @johnny_makes
I'll finish with how a few shots of how the ad format used to look for comparison /end
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ᴊᴏʜɴɴʏ ᴍᴀᴋᴇs 📟 Jan 22
Replying to @johnny_makes
Appendix: In their original research paper, Google’s founders (Brin and Page) themselves say: “We believe the issue of advertising causes enough mixed incentives that it is crucial to have a competitive search engine that is transparent”
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ᴊᴏʜɴɴʏ ᴍᴀᴋᴇs 📟 Jan 22
Replying to @johnny_makes
With ads hidden with real results, Google moves closer to hidden bias not advertising, something described by Google’s founders as: “bias is much more insidious than advertising, because it is not clear who "deserves" to be there, and who is willing to pay money to be listed.”
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ᴊᴏʜɴɴʏ ᴍᴀᴋᴇs 📟 Jan 23
Replying to @johnny_makes
This mini-thread is now a short article on Medium:
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ᴊᴏʜɴɴʏ ᴍᴀᴋᴇs 📟 Jan 27
Replying to @johnny_makes
UPDATE: Google are walking back their changes from today, due to the massive backlash
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ᴊᴏʜɴɴʏ ᴍᴀᴋᴇs 📟 Sep 5
Replying to @johnny_makes
Broken incentives = recurring issues. Google just can't help themselves.
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