Only 38% of search engine users are aware of the distinction between paid or sponsored results and unpaid or organic results. And only one in six say they can always tell which results are paid or sponsored and which are not. This finding is ironic, since nearly half of all users say they would stop using search engines if they thought engines were not being clear about how they presented paid results.

These new results from Pew Internet and American Life Project provide interesting food for thought for those amongst you considering buying your way into search engines using services such as Overture and Google’s AdWords programmes.

Perhaps one of the barriers to experimenting with these tools is your assumption that cynical searchers will ignore your paid-for position in the search engine results. This just doesn’t look to be the case – so maybe it’s time to test these services and see what kind of result your business gets.

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