Pew Search Scorecard: Google 83, Yahoo 6

Targeted advertisers won't be happy to hear that 68% of Pew survey participants said they are not OK with targeted online advertising
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Just how dominant is Google in the search engine space? According to a new study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 83% of respondents to a recent survey said they used Google more than any other search engine. Number two was Yahoo!, but with only 6%, tying with the combined "other" category.

In 2004, when Pew last asked that question in a survey, 47% said Google to 26% for Yahoo!

Google has been under a microscope on Capitol Hill for its dominance in search and online advertising -- it is currently being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission. At a Hill hearing last year, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said his company was not dominant in search, arguing that its competitors are not just general search engines -- Yahoo!, Bing, -- but specialized search engines, social networks and mobile apps.

Respondents gave search engines generally Boy Scout like marks for being on the up and up. A majority said they believed the results were fair and unbiased (66%) and the information mostly to always accurate and trustworthy (73%), with most saying the quality and relevance of search results had
improved.

Targeted advertisers won't be happy to hear that 68% of Pew survey participants said they are not OK with targeted online advertising because they did not like having their online behavior tracked and analyzed. Only 28% said they were OK with targeted advertisements because it meant they were only getting information about things they were really interested in.

The Obama administration has endorsed a browser-based do not track regime developed by the online advertising industry that will allow surfers to opt out of online tracking for advertising, but that is a voluntary effort that both the administration and privacy advocates say needs some legislative backstop.

According to the Pew study, which was released Friday, almost three-quarters of those polled (73%) said they would not be OK with search engines tracking searches to personalize future searches, calling it an invasion of privacy. Only 23% said they would be OK with such tracking.

They were not too thrilled with having future searches ranked according to information collected in prior searches, with 65% sayingv that could limit the information they get to see.

And while the majority don't want to be tracked, a minority of 38% say they are "generally aware" of the ways they themselves can limit how much information about them is collected. Both sides of the online tracking argument generally agree that surfers need to be better educated about their choices, with privacy advocates adding that they also need to be better informed about the ways they are being tracked and their information aggregated.

The report was based on a survey of 2,253 adults 18-plus, polled by phone, landline and cell, Jan, 20-Feb. 19.

The margin of error is plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

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