Google kills pub debate

18 April 2014
LONDON: More than half of UK adults trust Google more than their friends or partners when seeking the answer to a question, a development that has effectively killed the traditional pub debate, a new survey has said.

A study of 2,000 UK adults conducted by Search Laboratory, the SEM business, found that 60% would turn to the search engine first for an answer, with 30% choosing a partner and 10% someone or something else.

"Google is seen as a kind of oracle," Ian Harris, CEO and founder of Search Laboratory, explained to The Drum. "When you type in a question to a search engine you almost always take the first results as gospel so it's not surprising to see that we as a nation trust it more than our friends and family."

One consequence of this, he noted, had been the end of spirited discussions in the pub "as any argument is almost always ended by the phrase 'I've Googled it…'". He did not expect "I've Twittered it" to enter common usage any time soon.

Google was also likely to be the first choice for verifying breaking news, with around half of people turning there; in contrast, social media attracted only 11%.

The youngest age groups were significantly more reliant on Google, with 77% of 18-24 year olds citing it as their first port of call, compared to 50% of the over-55s. They also searched it more often, using it on average 3.3 times daily, as against the older group's 2.1 times.

Distinct regional differences were apparent, with Londoners searching the most frequently every day (3.48) and those from the East Midlands the least (2.03). Further, Scotland had the highest proportion of people searching on Google more than ten times a day (12%) while a third of those surveyed in Yorkshire said they did not use Google search at all on a daily basis.

Google's chief business officer recently observed a rise in mobile search queries. "People are more and more focused about what they look for in mobile devices," he said. "They are closer to intent. They are closer to transaction."

Advertisers were, he said, "just beginning to understand what it takes for the end user to come transact on their [mobile] website".

Data sourced from The Drum, Search Laboratory, Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff
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