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Do Ads Matter? An Exploration of Web Search Behavior, Visual Hierarchy, and Search Engine Results Pages

Users tend to ignore advertisements when viewing a web page, however, when searching for a specific product or service, advertisements can be very useful. This exploratory study examines the impact of online advertisements within search results. The findings provide support for the competition for attention theory in that users are looking at advertisements and entries when evaluation SERPs. We also examine web page search behavior and how it can affect user experience. The results show that eye tracking data is valuable for designers, marketers, and usability experts to develop and evaluate web page design.

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