The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent letters to the major search engines as well as a number of specialty search engines addressing their concerns about the separation of advertising and organic search.  The FTC last released guidelines in 2002 and it’s their opinion that search engines have blurred the lines between paid and organic search.

From their press release:  “According to both the FTC staff’s original search engine guidance and the updated guidance, failing to clearly and prominently distinguish advertising from natural search results could be a deceptive practice.  The updated guidance emphasizes the need for visual cues, labels, or other techniques to effectively distinguish advertisements, in order to avoid misleading consumers, and it makes recommendations for ensuring that disclosures commonly used to identify advertising are noticeable and understandable to consumers.”

The FTC did not place a deadline on the changes, but it seems likely that you will see changes to   search pages coming in the next few months.