Paid search engine vs organic results: young consumer preferences.

Sabwa, J.M. & Weideman, M.

Proceedings of the 12th World Wide Web conference (ZAW3-10). 21-23 September. Durban, South Africa.

Sabwa, J.M. & Weideman, M. 2010. Paid search engine vs organic results: young consumer preferences. Proceedings of the 12th World Wide Web conference (ZAW3-10). 21-23 September. Durban, South Africa. Online:

The primary objective of this research project was to investigate the student perception and acceptance of natural versus paid search engine results. It was established that only 47.1% of search engine users with a university or postgraduate qualification select search engine advertising results (PPC) as more relevant. This research aimed to establish the trend amongst younger consumers, specifically university students. The research methodology includes a survey of relevant literature and a questionnaire carried out by using a sample of students at a few local universities. The questionnaire was designed and a pilot study was done in order to test its accuracy. The final version of the questionnaire was completed during practical sessions in computer laboratories. The results indicated, amongst other things, that clear differences exist in preference, based on attributes such as gender, age, race and Internet skills. Conclusions drawn revealed that online advertisers should consider the results mentioned above, as they reflect the views of a percentage of young consumers in the Cape Town area. Further research could enable one to generalize the findings. Young consumers, especially students, form a very important social and economical category of the population and this should be considered while running online businesses. High rankings on Google and other search engines can make the difference between a successful online business and a failure.
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