User Centric conducted an eye tracking study that noted an increase in the clickthrough rates of organic search. The first study, conducted back in 2009 after Bing launched, was originally launched to study the amount and distribution of attention on Google’s and Bing’s SERPs. The results show little change in how users utilize both search engines, but that’s not to say there haven’t been any changes.
Disclaimer: many sites have already dissected the individual components of this study. See one such example at Search Engine Land as I will instead focus on the results.
To the left you can see a heatmap of both Google and Bing, annotated with total % viewed and average seconds viewed. If you’re the average searcher, you’re rarely looking at the right-rail sponsored results and you merely glance at the sponsored results displayed at the top. Sometimes, you will look at the left pane. Sometimes.
What are you looking at then? Organic Search Results.
Here’s an official list of findings, comparing new data to old data:
- Google’s top sponsored results enjoy longer gazes than Bing’s
- Right-rail sponsored results show no difference, though Bing’s performance drops
- Bing’s left pane sees more eyes (haha)
- Bing’s flyouts still useless
To sum up, Google will continue making more money than Bing. Here are some other quick thoughts that came to mind:
- search engines make a lot of money off of advertisers
- search engines generate a lot of dough from a small set of paid search clickers
- is there an seo-ppc budgeting disparity?
- unbeknownst to all, there’s a secret scheme in which bots crawl the web and are the ones actually clicking and dumping advertisers’ money into search engines’ laps, ie ppFc (pay-per-fraudulent-click)
Anyways, it seems that ads are becoming more useless as information overload is becoming a natural state of being. A lot of companies are also flooding money into display advertising as well, but I also think that these ads are producing a negligible impact. Instead, homepage takeovers and other premium buys generate the most impact. To compare it to search, I would say that premium buys are the head terms — the most costliest but most attentively viewed — while banner ads (medium rectangles, leaderboards, etc) are the longtail, capturing a less attentive audience who may or may not convert as readily.
Now let’s hope that someone starts throwing out heatmaps showing how users interact with the newer SERPs that contain a myriad of multimedia.