An empirical investigation on search engine ad disclosure

Dirk Lewandowski, Friederike Kerkmann, Sandra Rümmele, Sebastian Sünkler
  • Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, October 2017, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1002/asi.23963

An empirical investigation on search engine ad disclosure

What is it about?

This representative study of German search engine users (N=1,000) focuses on the ability of users to distinguish between organic results and advertisements on Google results pages. We combine questions about Google’s business with task-based studies in which users were asked to distinguish between ads and organic results in screenshots of results pages. We find that only a small percentage of users is able to reliably distinguish between ads and organic results, and that user knowledge of Google’s business model is very limited. We conclude that ads are insufficiently labelled as such, and that many users may click on ads assuming that they are selecting organic results.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/asi.23963

The following have contributed to this page: Sebastian Sünkler, Dirk Lewandowski, and Friederike Hanisch