In this paper, we report results of an investigation into the factors influencing the selection of sponsored links by e-commerce Web searchers. In this research, 56 participants each engaged in six e-commerce Web searching tasks. We mined these tasks from the transaction log of a major Web search engine, so the tasks represent real e-commerce searching information needs. Using 60 organic and 30 sponsored Web links retrieved by submitting these queries to the Google search engine, we controlled the quality of the Web search engine listings by switching non-sponsored and sponsored links on half of the tasks for each participant. This approach allowed for both investigating the bias toward sponsored links while controlling for quality of content. Data included 2453 interactions with result page links, 961 utterances evaluating these links, and 102 results from a post-study survey. The results of the data analysis indicate that there is a statistically significant preference for non-sponsored links with searchers viewing these results first more than 82% of the time. Searchers view sponsored links primarily as advertisements, appreciate these links if they are relevant, and are unconcerned if the search engines disclose them as sponsored links. The implications for sponsored links as a long-term business model are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Management Information Systems
- Information Systems
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Information Systems and Management