My title is a bit extreme in summarizing the research study Google published named Impact Of Ranking Of Organic Search Results On The Incrementality Of Search Ads.
In short, Google is saying that having search ads do help with incremental impressions and clicks on your organic search results.
Google said, "on average, 50% of the ad clicks that occur with a top rank organic result are incremental." They also noticed in this study that "on average, 81% of ad impressions and 66% of ad clicks occur in the absence of an associated organic result on the first page of search results."
Here is the abstract of the study:
In an earlier study, we reported that on average 89% of the visits to the advertiser’s site from search ad clicks were incremental. In this research, we examine how the ranking of an advertiser’s organic listings on the search results page affects the incrementality of ad clicks expressed through Incremental Ad Clicks (IAC) and as estimated by Search Ads Pause models. A meta-analysis of 390 Search Ads Pause studies highlights the limited opportunity for clicks from organic search results to substitute for ad clicks when the ads are turned off. On average, 81% of ad impressions and 66% of ad clicks occur in the absence of an associated organic search result. We find that having an associated organic search result in rank one does not necessarily mean a low IAC. On average, 50% of the ad clicks that occur with a top rank organic result are incremental, compared to 100% of the ad clicks being incremental in the absence of an associated organic result.
In short, having search ads with top rankings in the organic results does not hurt. In fact, it helps in most cases.
Here is the info graphic Google made out of this study:
Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.