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Effective online information: Studies into the improvement of online disclosures for consumers

The difference between whether or not consumers are able to see and understand information on a website often comes down to the tiniest details of how that information is presented. This has been revealed by a study conducted by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) into the way in which businesses inform consumers online about their offerings.

Recent studies into online information

ACM recently conducted various studies into the way in which businesses present their information online. It turned out that many methods used to present information in practice do not work well for consumers. However, implementing minor changes did help improve the comprehension and visibility of information tremendously.

For example:

  • Consumers usually do not see information about additional costs under an ï”- symbol. If such information is presented directly near the price, it is spotted much more easily;
  • With paid ranking (or sponsored ranking), providers pay a fee in order to be among the top search results. Businesses that use paid ranking sometimes label the paid search result with ‘sponsored’. Consumers find this particular label unclear. The label ‘paid ranking’, on the other hand, helps consumers understand the information better. In addition, the color and position of the label influence visibility, too;
  • With regard to information about purchase conditions, such as the return policy, it turned out that the use of icons helps consumers understand the information better. Emphasizing the urgency (‘final opportunity to read the purchase conditions’) results in more consumers reading this information.
  • These three studies show that small changes in timing, lay-out or wording can have significant effects on the comprehension and visibility for consumers.


Research report Effective online information (PDF - 952.65 KB)