January 23, 2005

Who ARE these people?

I haven't felt the blogging urge at the expense of other things during my free time in, oh, a while. But here I am - spurred on by a headline.

Survey: Users Confuse Search Results, Ads

NEW YORK - Only 1 in 6 users of Internet search engines can tell the difference between unbiased search results and paid advertisements, a new survey finds.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project reported Sunday that adults online in the United States are generally naive when it comes to how search engines work.

The major search engines all return a mix of regular results, based solely on relevance to the search terms entered, and sponsored links, for which a Web site had paid money to get displayed more prominently.

Google Inc. marks such ads as "sponsored links," Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news) terms them "sponsor results" and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN uses "sponsored sites." Such ads are placed to the right and on top of the regular search results, in some cases highlighted in a different color.

But only 38 percent of Web searchers even know of the distinction, and of those, not even half — 47 percent — say they can always tell which are paid. That comes out to only 18 percent of all Web searchers knowing when a link is paid.
18%. Okay, the other 82% of you - get off the Internet.

Perhaps that's a bit hasty given the last paragraph, which states that only 1399 of the 2200 people surveyed were Internet users. But, still! This stuff isn't difficult. I wonder how these people would respond if asked "is everything you read on the Internet true?"

Or if these are the same people (advertising writers, perhaps) who push my pet peeve with words like "Log on to <insert website here>." Uh, you're only logging on if you've registered a username and a password, people. Otherwise you're just VISITING.

Whoa. Volatile. This blogging stuff probably isn't too good for already stressed-out Type-A sorta folks. I'll be back later.


Posted by hln at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)