Effect of Sponsored Search on Consumer Trust and Choice
This study examines consumers’ trust of and purchase choice from vendors listed in organic and sponsored search results. We conducted an experimental study with 132 subjects and controlled for several factors related to consumers’ online experiences (website quality, duration of search, product familiarity, and online shopping frequency). Our study shows that trust is lower for sponsored links compared with organic links, and consumers are less likely to buy from vendors in sponsored search results. However, the disclosure of information about vendors’ reliability reduces this negative effect. Specifically, the disclosure of vendors’ reliability ratings increases consumers’ perceptions of trust in the sponsored results and significantly influences consumers’ selections of vendors in terms of reliability.
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