Independent eye tracking research reveals that while advertisers benefit from the top three paid positions on both Google and Microsoft’s Bing, Google attracts more visual attention to these links than Bing. This research follows an initial study conducted just days after Bing was launched in 2009.
User Centric, Inc., a user research and design firm based in Chicago, captured participants’ eye movements using eye tracking technology during informational and transactional searches to compare the amount and distribution of attention on Bing and Google search result pages.
Study outcomes showed a comparable number of participants viewing top sponsored links (~90 percent) across both search engines. However, these participants spent 22 percent more time looking at Google’s top sponsored links than Bing’s. For right sponsored links, Bing and Google didn’t significantly differ in the amount of attention.
Comparing sponsored links on top to those on the right in general, the study found the “eye hit rate” on the top to be at least three times higher and gaze time to be at least five times longer than on the sponsored links on the right. These findings should be of high interest to advertisers who can get more value out of their ads than only click through rates. They should take advantage of the attentional edge for top sponsored links, particularly on Google.
Potentially more intriguing are the organic search results findings. Before making the first click, participants spent 27 percent more time looking at organic search results on Google than on Bing. “While more gaze time is good for sponsored results, the opposite is true for organic results,” commented Aga Bojko, User Centric’s Chief Scientist. “Taking longer to make a decision and scanning more results may suggest lower perceived search results relevancy on Google. According to past research, users tend to scan search results until they find the first suitable link to click, so more time spent on Google could mean it took longer to find a link worth clicking.”
Robert Schumacher, Managing Director at User Centric, added, “As Google and Bing evolve, the amount of visual attention on their interfaces will ultimately shift as well. User Centric will continue to monitor the impact of these changes.”
Obtain more detailed results of this study at http://www.UserCentric.com/bing2.
Questions about the study? Contact Pamela Stoffregen-Gay at 630.320.3900.
To access additional eye tracking articles and learn more about User Centric's eye tracking services, visit www.UserCentric.com/eyetracking.