The Google EU antitrust case has been ongoing for quite sometime now. And while it seems to be never-ending, that isn't necessarily due to Google slowing the process. They have offered concessions several times now, and several times they have been told to resubmit. And well, it looks like Microsoft and other complainants are still not content and as a result, have commissioned an eye-tracking study.
Specifically, this study was proposed by the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace (ICOMP) and it was handled at the media research department at the German Sports university in Cologne. Perhaps more important here, it looks like they are attempting to use this study as further evidence that Google is doing something wrong.
As to that something wrong, the key here is about how Google uses their search results to promote their own services. More to the point, it was said that Google is not transparent in their methods. Anyway, some of the findings of the study show that visual attention for organic links is not as prevalent as compared to some of the Google results, which have images included.
Some of this is shown in the image sitting below, where the "Google Shopping Results" are sitting towards the top, and also eye-catching with the images being included. But on that note, the "compare results on" listings are just below, and also clearly marked. This brings another point returned with the study -- about how those other search sites do not draw enough visual attention to make the users want to click. Again, this goes to the lack of images.
The other item mentioned in the survey touches on those sponsored results and about how they seem to attract a large amount of the users' total visual attention. While there clearly still needs to be compromises on both sides in this antitrust case, there are some other items to consider. First, Google has a large market share and have been around for sometime now.
To some extent this comes down to what users are already familiar with. The other side, while we are not discrediting the results here, we do have to remember the study was proposed by the opposing side in this battle. Bottom line here, while we have seen Google already make several concessions, it appears they will only be making more as we move forward.