While researching online browsing/searching behaviors for a car insurance company, the research company, Bunnyfoot, discovered that 81% of their test subjects click on Pay-Per-Click ads and 41% didn’t realize that they were paid advertisements. In fact, these people thought the top results were in that position because they were the most authoritative.

PPC Pays Google’s Bills
This of course is not by accident. The shading surrounding the top three PPC spots is not even visible on many laptops due to the angle of the screen. Also of note, local map listings, video results and other additions to the search engine results page (SERP) have pushed organic results further down the page while the PPC listings have not moved. At the same time expanded listings, “places” location information and other features have made the PPC listings even more attractive and more like organic listings.

Competing Study Shows Only 6%
The study looked specifically at car insurance and not across several verticals. Another recent study published the amazing statistic that only 6% of clicks are on PPC ads. However, this was looking at the overall percentage of clicks on the internet. In other words, this was counting a person looking for car insurance and the person looking for a review of “The Hobbit”, and another person looking for a Wikipedia page explaining some technical piece of information.

Reconciling This Difference
The number of people visiting the internet for information, not to buy something at the moment, dwarfs the number shopping for something. Therefore this 6% statistic is absolutely misleading to business owners. The recent study about people looking for car insurance might be skewed to PPC because insurance is a service handled only by the biggest companies and they all have PPC ads. In fact, one would assume that any company that was legitimate would have a PPC ad.

Important Take-Home
This exposes a real gem for business owners. While it might be true that the insurance browsing study was biased toward PPC by the industry it also shows that if you want to compete in that space, it is truly a level playing field. Just run a PPC ad and you are right there competing for 81% of the SERP traffic. Also, the other stat is even more alarming; that 41% of the subjects didn’t realize there was a difference between the paid ads and organic listings. This should not be such a surprise. The majority of the public always believed the Yellow Pages were a public service and not a straight up “For-Profit” directory that sold space to the highest bidder.