Title: Investigating customer click through behaviour with integrated sponsored and nonsponsored results

Authors: Bernard J. Jansen, Amanda Spink

Addresses: College of Information Science and Technology, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA. ' Faculty of Information Technology, Queensland University of Technology, 2 George St., GPO Box 2434, Brisbane QLD 4001, Australia

Abstract: This paper reports findings from a study investigating the effect of integrating sponsored and nonsponsored search engine links into a single web listing. The premise underlying this research is that web searchers are chiefly interested in relevant results. Given the reported negative bias that web searchers have concerning sponsored links, separate listings may be a disservice to web searchers as it might not direct them to relevant websites. Some web meta-search engines integrate sponsored and nonsponsored links into a single listing. Using a web search engine log of over 7 million interactions from hundreds of thousands of users from a major web meta-search engine, we analysed the click-through patterns for both sponsored and nonsponsored links. We also classified web queries as informational, navigational and transactional based on the expected type of content and analysed the click-through patterns of each classification. The findings show that for more than 35% of queries, there are no clicks on any result. More than 80% of web queries are informational in nature and approximately 10% are transactional, and 10% navigational. Sponsored links account for approximately 15% of all clicks. Integrating sponsored and nonsponsored links does not appear to increase the clicks on sponsored listings. We discuss how these research results could enhance future sponsored search platforms.

Keywords: sponsored search; web search engines; sponsored results; sponsored links; non-sponsored links; internet advertising; online auctions; paid search; organic results; internet marketing; customer click-through; click-through behaviour.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2009.021951

International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, 2009 Vol.5 No.1/2, pp.74 - 94

Published online: 11 Dec 2008 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article