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"Those of you who rail about the evils of advertising in general, or this technique in particular, are entitled to your opinions, but do please aim your rage at the appropriate target: Google."

Let's be clear - I'm not at all railing on the evils of advertising. I'm as much of a marketer as I am a product designer and programmer.

Google does not put faked user-generated content (review stars) next to their ads. This is functionally equivalent to me putting an ad on Facebook with the text "5 of your friends like this" embedded in the image. It's a deceptive lie aimed at blindly increasing CTR without regard to click quality. I would be 100x happier with the ad if he had simply left out the stars.

I think he is entitled to put some form of stars if he has actually done the research and got those results. Your right though that having them appear to be as part of the website is dishonest.

This is at least a productive comment. It's the review stars that bother you? If he took the review stars off, replaced them with some other element, you'd be fine with the ad?

I'm never a fan of advertorials, despite their occasional efficacy, because I think they devalue their surroundings. I'm particularly bothered by then when substantial effort is made to make it difficult for even keen-eyed observers to recognize their existence.

If he took the review stars off, replaced them with some other element, you'd be fine with the ad?

Actually, yes.

I was looking at the ad and trying to figure out what bothered me about it. I know on an intellectual level that this isn't very different from what Google does yet the ad here slightly offended me in a way that Google SERPs do not.

I think removing the phony star ratings would have made it more palatable (to me, at least).

Do you have any reason to doubt the veracity of his internal polling which he mentions getting 4.8 out of 5 for? Calling a 5 star rating "faked" is a bit strong.

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