Search Engines Doing A Better Job Of Calling Out Paid-Search Ads

Google and Bing, and even Amazon, have been criticized for not doing more to distinguish paid-search advertisements from organic search results, but the findings from a survey results released Thursday suggest improvements.

In fact 77% of people are confident they can identify paid search advertising, according to results from a Clutch survey.

“From our data, it appears that most people can distinguish between paid and organic search results, which means that they see value in paid search ads as long as they are relevant and compelling,” Clutch content developer and marketer Grayson Kemper wrote in an email to Search Marketing Daily. “This data should be a call-to-action for businesses to create transparent ads that directly respond to the sort of search queries they expect their target audiences to search.”

Clutch surveyed 506 people who have clicked on a paid-search ad in the past month to learn the reasons why people click on them, especially as fraudulent ads plague the display and video industries.

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“It's certainly impossible to say that all paid search ads are genuine, because there will always be people trying to scam the system and earn clicks to irrelevant pages,” Kemper wrote. “However, I do think that the setup and auction process for search ads weeds out some fraudulence.”

He wrote that the highest price doesn't always win and quality is needed for the ads. He explains that search engines have a reputation to defend, so it's in their best interests to make sure that the ads that appear for queries are relevant and valuable to search audiences. 

About 75% of survey participants said paid-search ads make it easier to find the information they are searching for on a website or search engine, and 33% of people click on a paid-search ad because it directly answers their search query.

About four times as many people -- at 63% -- are more likely to click on a paid-search ad on Google than on any other search engine such as Amazon at 15%), YouTube at 9%, and Bing at 6%.

Those searching for content are most likely to click on text paid-search ads, 49%, instead of shopping/product listing ads at 31% and video ads at 16%.

And some 26% of searchers said they click on a paid search ad because it mentions a brand they are familiar with.

Familiarity also is the primary reason that people click on YouTube and Amazon search ads at 33%.

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