CNNIC’s recent report of Chinese Netizen’s Search Behaviour in 2014 provided many updated statistical figures to the latest state of China’s Internet and search industry. The most interesting piece of data from the report is perhaps a study of the Chinese searchers’ awareness of advertising in search and their perception of them.
The study surveyed 2,450 netizens spread across various tier 1 to 5 cities in China, and found that less than half of the respondents were aware of the presence of advertising in search results.
Amongst the more observant searchers, as many as 57.2% indicated that they do not trust advertising on search engines to some degree. 37.1% respondents were neutral, and only 5.8% expressed their trust in paid search results.
This may be due to the negative news coverage on scams that stemmed from search ads, and it has also prompted search engines to provide more stringent website verification and coverage to search ads customers.
Compare this with the results to the same question but on e-commerce search, which includes travel bookings. Here, most users were neutral towards ads and only 32.1% said that they mistrust advertising results. Unlike general search, e-commerce search results, including ads, are often accompanied by user reviews. This gives searchers accessible information in order to identify if a product offer is genuine and legitimate, or to at least better align their customer expectations.
Chinese report downloaded at http://www.cnnic.net.cn/hlwfzyj/hlwxzbg/201410/P020141017723870919304.pdf