"Joe Search Engine User" is Naive, says report

According to a recently released study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project (www.pewinternet.org) search engines are popular, but ads and paid results are confusing for most searchers…According to the report (available on the site in PDF format), 92% of those individuals polled felt confident about their ability to effectively use the search engines with over half saying they are “very confident” in their skills.

The study compares the Internet to television, stating that although most consumers can tell the difference between regular programming and infomercials — and they can tell the difference between reported stories and ads in traditional print media, that just over a third could differentiate between paid listings and the “organic” listings in search engines.

So, as much as I work with Internet marketing and as much as I watch the trends as they constantly change and remain in flux…

The Internet populace really hasn’t “come of age” yet… at least not in relation to the use of search engines.

You know, I’m thinking a good search engine 101 community education class is in order!

So, does this mean that while those of us who have been online for many years really should take advantage of search engine promotional placement and paid ads while the rest of the world is learning to differentiate?

Ah now THERE is an ethical dilemma! :O)

To inform… or not to inform, to take advantage before everyone learns to spot an ad or to stay true to the “essence” of the Internet as a forum built on the idea that even the small can be mighty in a virtual plane.

Will have to think on this more…