2For the scope of this paper, we focus solely on sponsoredsearch ads in Google. Through the use of a Firefoxextension, we explore layering additional information andoptions on the ads that users receive. Our intention, first andforemost, is to help make those ads more useful to users— with a secondary objective that if ads are more useful tousers, and more successful at engaging them, thenadvertisers will benefit. However, since more informationmay not necessarily be beneficial to every advertiser inevery situation, we place the needs of the
above theneeds of the
in our approach.The organization of this paper will be a description of related work, analysis of our survey of user sentiments for sponsored search advertising, the description of our Firefoxextension design to address the issues arising from thatsurvey, and the results from a think-aloud study of participants using this enhanced search advertisingextension. We conclude with several ideas of next steps to build on this work.
2. RELATED WORK
There are a number of papers that have explored the hugeeconomic force that is sponsored search advertising, mostnotably Internet Advertising and the Generalized SecondPrice Auction: Selling Billions of Dollars Worth of Keywords by Edelman, Ostrovsky, and Schwarz .Gomes, Immorlica, and Markakis  argued that usersconsider sponsored search ads using an “ordered search”heuristic in Externalities in Keyword Auctions: AnEmpirical and Theoretical Assessment. However, there has been little academic research to date on when and howusers decide to consider sponsored search ads at all, or howthose ads might be better from the user’s perspective.With banner advertising, there has been some interestingresearch in this area. Drèze and Hussherr noted users avoidlooking at these ads in Internet Advertising: Is AnybodyWatching? (2003)—although they claim there is still brandvalue with reach users at a pre-attentive level . Jakob Nielsen, a well-regarded web usability expert, hasconducted eye-tracking studies to confirm this “banner blindness” . However, Nielsen notes that the moreadvertisements look like a native part of the site, the moreattention that receive. This bodes well for search ads inGoogle, and indeed, eye-tracking studies by searchmarketing firm Enquiro show that sponsored search ads doget some attention—more than the banner ads in Nielsen’sstudies . Danaher and Mullarkey (2003) found that user in a goal-directed mode, such as search, are less likely torecall banner ads .Broder, et al., have described the benefits of “broad match”insertion of sponsored search ads, considering ads related tothe user’s specific query, as a way to exposing users to potentially more useful information from advertisers .Clarke, et al., have shown that the features exposed insearch result summaries (“captions”) have an impact on theclickthrough rate of users . Although their research wason organic search results, not sponsored ads, their work suggests that more expressive information about the searchads may have a positive impact on the experience of usersand their corresponding clickthrough rates.An AdweekMedia/The Harris Poll of 2,521 U.S. adults inJune 2009 to find out which ads are most helpful in making purchase decisions . While 37% of the respondents saidthat television ads were the most helpful, while only 17%said that about Internet search engine ads. (Only 1% of therespondents said that about Internet banner ads.)Finally, Googlepedia, an extension for Firefox developed by James Hall, inserts relevant Wikipedia articles into thesearch results pages on Google . This mechanism of dynamically altering pages on Google to deliver additionalinformation to users is similar to what our Firefox extensiondoes. Because Googlepedia is an open source project, with permission granted by the author to use, modify andredistribute his code, we used it as the starting point for our extension.
3. SURVEY OF USER SENTIMENTS FOR SEARCH ADS
As the first step of this project, we conducted a survey of web users to learn more about their sentiments and perceptions of sponsored search advertising today. Our survey, performed on the web via SurveyMonkey.com, had92 participants.Because requests for participation were posted on theauthor’s blog and Twitter account, which has an audienceof subscribers that include many marketers, the surveyasked respondents to identify if they worked in marketing.52.2% (48) of the participants identified themselves assuch, and since we expected their answers to be biased bytheir professional experience, we segmented their responsesin our analysis below. In the graphs presented, the orange bars associated with “Yes” in the legend representmarketers; the blue bars for “No” represent non-marketers.The first question asked respondents how often they payattention to the sponsored ads when they do a search onGoogle, Yahoo!, or Bing.