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Channel 4 News – Search Engine Research

Research for Channel 4 News as part of their ‘fake news week’ coverage looking at public perceptions of search engines and their use of ‘autocomplete’ suggestions.

Google is equally likely to be seen as providing reliable and accurate information as television news programmes (68% v 67%). 

Q1. Generally speaking, to what extent do you trust or distrust the following to provide information which is reliable and accurate?


  NET: Trust NET: Distrust
University academics 75% 11%
Google 68% 18%
Television news programmes 67% 24%
Results on the first page of a search engine 50% 29%
Companies 42% 41%
Newspapers 36% 54%
Politicians 15% 78%

Base: All respondents (n=2,003) 


  • There is evidence of a perceived difference between the information provided by Google as opposed companies in general, with GB adults more likely to trust Google (68%) than companies (42%) to provide reliable and accurate information.
  • A generational divide in trust of different sources of information can be seen in the data – older people are significantly more likely to trust television news programmes than their younger counterparts (74% of 65+ vs 63% of 18-24 year olds.
  • 18-24 year olds are more likely to say they trust the results on the first page of a search engine (60% vs 40% of 65+ year olds).


Just over three in five (63%) of GB adults say they use an ‘autocomplete’ option at least some of the time when using a search engine.

Q2. Generally speaking, how often would you say you do each of the following when using a search engine, if ever? 


  NET: at least some of the time NET: at least most of the time Every time Most times Some of the time Very occasionally Never
Look beyond the first couple of search results on the first page 80% 50% 16% 34% 30% 12% 3%
Go to the second page of search results or beyond 71% 32% 6% 26% 39% 20% 4%
Use an ‘autocomplete’ option 63% 27% 5% 23% 36% 13% 17%
Click on an ‘autocomplete’ option even though it is not what you were intending to look for 33% 9% 2% 7% 24% 27% 31%

Base: All respondents (n=2,003) 


  • The proportion of those who use ‘autocomplete’ at least some times rises to four in five (80%) when looking at 18-24 year olds, with two in five (41%) of this group saying they use an ‘autocomplete’ option ‘most times’ they use a search engine, significantly higher than any other age group.
  • Half of 18-24 year olds (54%) say that they click on an ‘autocomplete’ option even though it is not what they were intending to look for at least some times; significantly more than the one in six of 65+ year olds (16%) who say the same.


The most common reason for using ‘autocomplete’ is to save time typing, with nearly seven in ten (67%) saying so.

Q3. Thinking about when you use the ‘autocomplete’ option on a search engine, have you ever used it for any of the following reasons?



To save you time typing 67%
Because the options suggested caught your interest 40%
Because it prompted you with something you had not thought about searching for 35%
Because you think it delivers the best search results 18%
Because it shows you what other people are searching for 14%
None of these 5%
Don’t know 3%

Base: All respondents who ever use autocomplete (n=1,516) 


  • 18-24 year olds are the most likely age group both to say that ‘autocomplete’ offers the best search results (23%) and that they use ‘autocomplete’ because it shows you what other people are searching for (22%).

Date Published: 09/02/2017

Categories: Media

Client: Channel 4


ComRes interviewed 2,003 GB adults online between the 3rd and 5th February 2017.  Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults.

  1. Channel-4-News_search-engine-research_Feb-2017 0.01 MB.