Penn State Study: Paid + Organic Listing = 15% Clickthrough Rate

Penn State’s Jim Jansen announced a recent study they just finished that looked at the click through rate of search ads. They studied hundreds of thousands of users, as they interacted with Dogpile, the popular meta search engine.

The findings were somewhat surprising to  Jansen. The clickthrough rate on an ad when it was supported by an organic listing was only 15 percent. He thought having an organic and paid listing would increase the click through rate to a number higher than 15 percent. His study also found that “35 percent of queries” did not result in any ad clicks ad all.

The full study was published in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising. I emailed Professor Jansen for more details and hope to update this article as soon as I get those details.

Postscript: Professor Jansen sent me a link to a PDF of the report named Investigating customer click through behaviour with integrated sponsored and nonsponsored results.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Search Ads: General | Stats: Search Behavior


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Scott Salwolke

    I’m shocked by the results of this study. I always assumed like many that pay per click combined with organic rankings resulted in a higher click through rates. I’d like to see another study to see if this resulted in the same findings.

  • Simon Heseltine

    I don’t think that’s what this study is saying. From reading it, they’re looking at Dogpile because it integrates Paid search listings in the SERP with regular organic listings (not off to the right, or above the organic listings). I don’t see in the study where they’re looking at PPC & organic listings for the same company.

    As for his findings, it’s 10.2% clicks on paid listings, 54.5% on organic and 35.2% no clicks, the CTR on paid listings only goes up to 15.8% when you factor out the no clicks.

    What I found more interesting about this study was Table 6, showing the CTR by ranking position for Informational, Navigational and Transactional queries. It’s interesting that for informational and transactional queries over 20% of clicks occur beyond the first page.

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