The implementation and perception of paid placement schemes in the top three search engines.

Pombo, L. & Weideman, M. 2014.

Published Online: 2014/###

Pombo, L. & Weideman, M. 2014. The implementation and perception of paid placement schemes in the top three search engines. Working Paper, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town. Online:

The purpose of this research was to analyse the current top three search engines in order to find a correlation between the implementation of their paid placement or sponsored search result schemes, and user's perception thereof. An analysis of current literature was done, finding similar work surrounding these topics and also more specific work done regarding the implementation of paid placement results and user perception. Empirical work was then planned and executed in the form of two pilot studies. In the first, the top three search engine result pages were analysed to find how each search engine implemented its paid placement schemes. Some search queries were created and each of these was used and the results noted. The second study took the form of personal interviews - 10 participants were interviewed. Each one was shown the same results page from a search conducted on Google and questions were based on that page. Results from both studies combined with previous work confirmed that users are not satisfied with the level of separation between organic and paid results. Users would prefer more separation between the two sets of results. There is some evidence that search engines are trying to accomplish the opposite as this would benefit the income potential of their paid placement results.
  1. Alhenshiri, A., Brooks, S., Watters, C. and Shepherd, M. 2011. Augmenting the Perception of Web Search Results. International Journal of Information Studies, 3(1). [17 Mar 2014].
  2. Bai, X. 2013. In Google We Trust: Consumers' Perception of Search Engine Optimization and Its Potential Impact on Online Information Search. Unpublished Master's Thesis, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
  3. Chitika Insights 2013, The Value of Google Result Positioning. [20 Mar 2014].
  4. Buscher, G. Dumais, S. and Cutrell, E. 2010. The Good, the Bad, and the Random: An Eye-Tracking Study of Ad Quality in Web Search. Proceedings of the 33rd international ACM SIGIR conference on Research and development in information retrieval. 19-23 July. Switzerland, Geneva. [19 May 2014].
  5. Chitika 2013. The Value of Google Result Positioning. [17 Oct 2014].comScore 2014. comScore Search August 2014. Rankings/comScore-Releases-August-2014-US-Search-Engine-Rankings [17 Oct 2014].
  6. Domke, D., Shah, V. D., and Wackman, B. D. 1998. “MedianPriming Effects: Accessibility, Association, and Activation, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 10(1). [18 Aug 2014].
  7. Dou, W., Lim, K., Su, C., Zhou, N. and Cui, N. 2010. Brand Positioning Strategy Using Search Engine Marketing. MIS Quarterly, 34(2). strategy-using-search-engine-marketing [17 Mar 2014].
  8. Federal Trade Commission, 2013. Letter to search engine companies. agencys-guidance-search-engine-industryon-need-distinguish/130625searchenginegeneralletter.pdf [17 Oct
  9. Feng, J., Bhargava, H. and Pennock, D. 2007. Implementing Sponsored Search in Web Search Engines: Computational Evaluation of Alternative Mechanisms. INFORMS Journal of Computing, 19(1). [17 Mar 2014].
  10. Google 2014, Google Zeitgeist 2012. [9 July 2014].
  11. Hotchkiss, G., Garrison, M. and Jensen, S. 2004. Search Engine Usage In North America. [8 Sep 2014].
  12. Jansen, B.J. and Resnick, M. 2006. An examination of searchers' perceptions of non-sponsored and sponsored links during ecommerce Web searching. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 57(14). [8 Sep 2014].
  13. Jansen, B. and Spink, A. 2009. Investigating customer click through behaviour with integrated sponsored and nonsponsored results. International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, 5(1/2). [8 Sep 2014].
  14. Kim, L. 2014. How to Reduce Your Cost Per Conversion by 16-80% (Sorry, Haters, Quality Score Still Matters). (17 Oct 2014). Neethling, R. 2007. Search engine optimisation or paid placement systems – user preference. Unpublished Masters Thesis, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town.
  15. Oxford Dictionaries. 2014a, [19 May 2014].
  16. Oxford Dictionaries. 2014b, [19 May 2014].
  17. Phillips, A., Ruijiao, Y. and Djamasbi, S. 2013. Do ads matter? An exploration of Web search behaviour, visual hierarchy, and search engine results pages. Proceeds of the 46th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. 7-10 January. Wailea, Maui. Fxpls%2Fabs_all.jsp%3Farnumber%3D6480027 [17 Mar 2014].
  18. Sullivan, D. 2012. Google: 100 Billion Searches Per Month, Search To Integrate Gmail, Launching Enhanced Search App For iOS. [04 Apr 2012].
  19. Yahoo!, 2014. Yahoo! Advertising. https://advertising.Yahoo!.com [18 Aug 2014].
Full text of Working Paper No 0013: The role of anchor text in SMME websites: higher visibility?

Digital Library with full-text of academic publications on website visibility, usability, search engines, information retrieval

Back to Home page