Design of Search Engine Services: Channel Interdependence in Search Engine Results

Journal of Marketing Research 53, no. 6 (2016), 881-900

20 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2013 Last revised: 25 Jul 2018

See all articles by Benjamin G. Edelman

Benjamin G. Edelman

Harvard University - HBS Negotiations, Organizations and Markets Unit

Zhenyu Lai

Harvard University - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 7, 2016

Abstract

The authors examine prominent placement of search engines’ own services and effects on users’ choices. Evaluating a natural experiment in which different results were shown to users who performed similar searches, they find that Google’s prominent placement of its Flight Search service increased the clicks on paid advertising listings by more than half while decreasing the clicks on organic search listings by about the same quantity. This effect appears to result from interactions between the design of search results and users’ decisions about where and how to focus their attention: Users who decide what to click based on listings’ relevance became more likely to select paid listings, while users who are influenced by listings’ visual presentation and page position became more likely to click on Google’s own Flight Search listing. The authors consider implications of these findings for competition policy and for online marketing strategies.

Keywords: Search engines, organic search, sponsored search advertising, user interface, channel substitution

JEL Classification: L21, L40, L86

Suggested Citation

Edelman, Benjamin G. and Lai, Zhenyu, Design of Search Engine Services: Channel Interdependence in Search Engine Results (March 7, 2016). Journal of Marketing Research 53, no. 6 (2016), 881-900, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2251294 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2251294

Benjamin G. Edelman (Contact Author)

Harvard University - HBS Negotiations, Organizations and Markets Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

HOME PAGE: http://people.hbs.edu/bedelman

Zhenyu Lai

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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