22% of online Americans say that they click on search engine ads, finds The Search Agency in a survey conducted by Harris Interactive. The results show a fairly significant degree of variation on a geographic level, with the proportion saying they click on search ads far higher in the South (29%) than in the Northeast (20%), West (19%), and Midwest (17%). The study also finds that 18-34-year-olds report being more likely to click on search ads than those aged 35 and older (30% vs. 18%).
That result differs from earlier research from GroupM UK and Nielsen, as reported by Econsultancy, which found that the likelihood of clicking on a paid search ad increased alongside age.
Interestingly, The Search Agency’s study shows an element of confusion on the part of respondents regarding the way in which search engines make money. While just over three-quarters of the online adults surveyed realize that search engines make money by running ads with search results, more than one-third believe that search engines sell users’ personal data to marketers, while many also believe that companies pay annual dues for use (29%) or that users pay for premium search features (20%).
A similar disconnect emerged when it came to Facebook. While 70% of respondents claimed to know how to post on someone’s wall, only 54% said they understand how Facebook makes money. Women were more likely than men to know how to post, but less likely to understand Facebook monetization.
In other survey results, men were more likely than women to know the allowed character length of a tweet (37% vs. 27%), but less likely to know what it means to pin something (42% vs. 48%). Both Twitter and Pinterest have a greater share of female than male users in the US, according to an August study from Pingdom.
About the Data: The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Search Agency from August 14th-16th, 2012 among 2,006 adults ages 18 and older. The online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.