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Google + will offer celebrity search tips as safe guide for web surfers

Google + to enhance search results with celebrity endorsements of sites linked to their brands

When you’re searching the internet it’s difficult to know who to trust: the Nigerian businessman promising vast riches for a bit of cash up front, or websites that claim to be offering Burberry trench coats at a fraction of their retail price?

It is easy to dismiss those examples as obvious tricks, but it can be much harder to pick the right website when faced with a page of search results.

Soon Google will be offering a new way to help choose, by telling you which sites gain your favourite celebrities’ approval.

Christian Oestlien, Google’s head of social advertising, said the company will soon allow celebrities to show their endorsement of products associated with them. It is part of the search portal’s effort to weed out companies that do not offer legitimate products, and to give celebrities tighter control of their brand.

The company is testing the celebrity endorsement feature, which will appear in sponsored ads at the top of Google search pages. “Some advertisers use celebrity endorsement in their ads. This test extends the option of celebrity endorsement to online campaigns,” a Google spokesman said. “We’re always testing new ways to make advertising more compelling to our users and advertisers.”

Oestlien told a conference in New York that if, for example, users searched for the Kardashian family’s Kollection, they would find Khloe Kardashian’s endorsement for the clothing line at US department store Sears. Oestlien said Sears had told Google the Kardashians are supporting the department store and its Kardashian line.

The celebrity endorsements will be rolled out in the US soon, coming to the UK later. The development is part of Google+, the search engine’s drive to bring Facebook-like social data to its search results. Google+ users who like a particular search result are already able to recommend it to their friends.

The development comes as Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, is preparing to face a Washington Senate panel over accusations that the company is bullying smaller rivals.

At the hearing before the Senate judiciary committee’s antitrust panel on Wednesday, Schmidt will argue that Google’s critics are wrong to say it gives preference to its own products. He will argue that Google is just trying to deliver the search results for users.

Senator Richard Blumenthal told Reuters: “Concerns have been raised by both regulators and competitors over whether Google has used its dominance of the online and smartphone search markets to impose extra costs on consumers, unfairly preference its own products, or disadvantage competitors through a variety of means, including its search and advertising systems.”

Google has denied all the allegations. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds