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Confusion About How Facebook, Google Make Money

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Though most online adults (70%) say they know how to post content on a Facebook wall, only 54% say they understand how the social networking site makes money, according to a survey from The Search Agency.

Users seem to have a better understanding of how search engines generate revenue, however, the study found.

Online women are less likely than online men to understand how Facebook makes money, though they're more likely to know how to post to a Facebook wall: 

Below, additional findings from the 2012 Online User Behavior and Engagement Study, conducted by Harris Interactive for The Search Agency.

People appear to have a better understanding of search-engine revenues.

More than three in four (78%) online adults say search engines make money via ads that run alongside search results.

People believe search engines have other sources of revenue, too:

  • 36% of online adults say search engines sell users' personal data to marketers.
  • 29% say companies pay annual dues to use search engines.
  • 20% say users pay for premium search features.

On average, one in five (22%) online adults say they've clicked on an ad served via a search engine; that level is higher amoung online adults living in the South (29%), but lower among those living in the Midwest (17%).

Younger people are more likely to click on ads: 30% of online adults age 18‐34 say they click on search engine ads—nearly double the rate of those age 35+ (18%).

Other key findings:

  • Tweeting: 37% of online men say they know the maximum length of a tweet (140 characters), compared with 27% of online women who say the same.
  • Pinning: 48% of online women know what it means to "pin" something, compared with 42% of online men.

About the data: Findings are based on a poll of 2,006 US adult Internet users (age 18+), conducted by Harris Interactive for the Search Agency, August 14-16, 2012.

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Lenna Garibian is a MarketingProfs research writer and a marketing consultant in the tech industry, where she develops engaging content that builds thought leadership and revenue opportunities for clients. She's held marketing and research positions at eRPortal Software, GAP Inc., Stanford University, and the IMF. Reach Lenna via Twitter @LennaAnahid and LinkedIn.

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  • by Brandon Mon May 20, 2013 via web

    I think that advertisement is a lionís share of Facebook and Googleís revenue. Some users donít think how they make money simply because they arenít interested. Posting on a Facebook wall, sending messages and following someone is easy and thatís why they use Facebook. But business people know how useful using Facebook and Google can be for business. Even more, it can make your business extremely popular because of great quantity of users, so if you know how it works then you and your business can definitely benefit from it. Brandon Smith from

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