Feeds

Australia Institute: we’re all mindless sheep

What, there’s a second page of search results?

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Search dominates how we shop on the Web, Google dominates search, big names dominate Google results, and most people don’t bother looking beyond the first page of search results.

Those are the key, and remarkably unsurprising, results of a paper called What you don’t know can hurt you, researched and published by the Australia Institute, and sponsored by the Microsoft-led Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace.

The study says only 15 percent of respondents go beyond the first page of search results; since 46 of respondents admit that search order influences their Internet shopping decisions, and since 37 percent said they were unaware that search engines display paid advertising, the report concludes that the combination of user ignorance and search placements gives brands with spending power the chance to “dominate the Internet”.

More than a third of users are also unaware that “search rankings will change depending on which search engines are used,” the study says.

The report could also have concluded that people are too lazy, inattentive, ignorant or uninterested to find out how the world works, but it didn’t.

The report’s sponsor, iCOMP, recently fired its first shots in Australia against Google with a submission to the Productivity Commission’s retail inquiry, noting that “competition in search affects Australian online businesses and consumers.”

That stance is reiterated by the Australia Institute report, which states: “The more that one search provider dominates the market, the more that its own algorithm – and any idiosyncrasies that may be built into it – will shape online behaviour in arenas far beyond search.”

The paper also says “transparency” should “underlie a range of policy interventions”, or as iCOMP put it in its PC submission, there is a “need to foster an Australian regulatory framework which promotes greater choice, transparency, fair prices, and protection from unfair practices from search engines with significant market power.”

Even users, the Australia Institute reports, are in favour of regulation: “In addition, most respondents (63 per cent) preferred the government to intervene if necessary in the interests of competition”, it states.

“It may be that the principle of ‘search neutrality … is as important as network neutrality in determining the manner in which the Internet evolves”, the Australia Institute report says.

The Register awaits a counter-stroke from The Chocolate Factory with interest. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.