More than half of adults in survey taken in Britain couldn’t tell the difference between paid results and organic results from a Google search engine query.
The results were a part of Ofcom’s yearly Adults Media Use and Attitudes Report. A total of 1,328 respondents who said they use search engines were asked to look at the results of a Google search and distinguish between the paid ads and the organic search results.
Even though Google includes small yellow box with the word “Ad” in white letters inside the box, 51 percent of the people who took the survey did not correctly identify the paid results. A breakdown of results showed that seniors were most likely to be confused by the difference.
Additionally, there was some general confusion about how search engines work in general. Nearly 1 out of 5 respondents said that any website listed as part of the search results must be both accurate and unbiased.
The survey focused on a Google search for walking boots. The first three results included the ad box.
Ofcom is the communications regulator in the United Kingdom, the equivalent of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
Read the Ofcom report.