The latest round of Pew consumer research concludes that most search engine users are still confused about what's paid search and what's not.
According to a report issued yesterday, 62% of respondents to Pew's telephone survey were "unaware" of a distinction between paid and unpaid results. However, 70% of respondents were "okay" with the idea of paid search results.
More sophisticated users–those who have been online at least 6 years–are "slightly more skeptical" about search engine results. In a related vein, previous comScore data show that the more experienced the searcher, the less likely s/he is to click on paid search ads.
Pew's findings are consistent with previous consumer studies that have shown confusion about the nature of search results.
One interesting finding was that 67% of respondents said that they would essentially be fine without search engines, whereas 32% said they "couldn't live without them."
- Men use search somewhat more than women
- Younger users trust and use search more than seniors
- A slight majority of Pew's respondents use search "one or twice a week"
- Just under half of Pew's respondents are loyal to one search engine and a slightly larger group used "two or three," while a tiny minority used "more than three."
Extensive discussion of the results and a nice write up are available at Search Engine Watch.