Are Ads on Google Search Engine Results Pages Labeled Clearly Enough?

Lewandowski, D.,Sünkler, S., Kerkmann, F.: Are Ads on Google Search Engine Results Pages Labeled Clearly Enough? In: M. Gäde/V. Trkulja/V. Petras (Eds.): Everything Changes, Everything Stays the Same? Understanding Information Spaces. Proceedings of the 15th International Symposium of Information Science (ISI 2017), Berlin, 13th—15th March 2017. Glückstadt: Verlag Werner Hülsbusch, pp. 62—74.

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Abstract

In an online experiment using a representative sample of the German online population (n = 1,000), we compare users’ selection behaviour on two versions of the same Google search engine results page (SERP), one showing advertisements and organic results, the other showing organic results only. Selection behaviour is analyzed in relation to users’ knowledge on Google’s business model, on SERP design, and on these users’ actual performance in marking advertisements on SERPs correctly. We find that users who were not able to mark ads correctly selected ads significantly more often. This leads to the conclusion that ads need to be labeled more clearly, and that there is a need for more information literacy in search engine users.