December 5, 2018
The UK marketing agency Varn asked 1000 Internet users whether they knew which links on the Google search results page are paid adverts.
According to the survey, 59.7% of respondents were unaware of the difference between the two types of Google listings. Most of the users believe that top-page results are the most relevant answers to their questions, while in fact the top positions were bought by adve...rtisers.
33.7% of people who recognized paid search results said that they would deliberately prefer not to choose paid results. And only 6.5% of people who recognized paid results claimed that they would click the links while understanding that they are ads.
Previously (five years ago) paid search results were highlighted and accompanied by orange text box ‘Ad’ in Google Search results page. Over the years, ‘Ad’ icon and link for paid listings became green as were organic results.
In 2016 Google also removed ads from the right side of search pages. These changes were rather small, but Varn found out that the number of users who could not recognize the difference between paid and organic search results increased by 9.4% in comparison to similar research in 2016.
The parallel study by AdPilot focused on Google Shopping listings has shown that 30% of 1000 respondents did not know that products and images in Google Shopping search results were paid adverts, and 50% of people knew it and ignored such ads.
Ad transparency remains a significant issue. Last year Google was fined by €2.42 billion by European Commission. EC accused the search giant of skewing search results in favor of its Shopping ads.