The top four most researched ETFs by individual investors, along with six of the top 10, were Vanguard products. Advisors and institutional investors, though, favored iShares products.

The PIMCO Total Return Fund also earned a top spot on the lists for all investor types.

The top ETFs of 2012 for individual investors include:

  • Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (NYSEArca: VIG)
  • Vanguard High Dividend Yield Index ETF (NYSEArca: VYM)
  • Vanguard REIT Index ETF (NYSEArca: VNQ)
  • Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO)
  • SPDR S&P Dividend (NYSEArca: SDY)
  • SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD)
  • ALPS Alerian MLP ETF (NYSEArca: AMLP)
  • Vanguard Energy ETF (NYSEArca: VDE)
  • Vanguard Health Care ETF (NYSEArca: VHT)
  • WisdomTree Emerging Markets Equity Income ETF (NYSEArca: DEM)

Top ETFs financial advisors looked at include:

  • SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD)
  • iShares Barclays TIPS Bond (NYSEArca: TIP)
  • Vanguard Dividend Appreciation ETF (NYSEArca: VIG)
  • Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO)
  • iShares SP U.S Preferred Stock Index (NYSEArca: PFF)
  • iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (NYSEArca: EEM)
  • iShares MSCI EAFE Index (NYSEArca: EFA)
  • SPDR SP 500 (NYSEArca: SPY)
  • Vanguard REIT Index ETF (NYSEArca: VNQ)
  • iShares iBoxx $ Invest Grade Corporate Bond (NYSEArca: LQD)

Lastly, the top ETFs institutional investors browsed include:

  • SPDR SP 500 (NYSEArca: SPY)
  • Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VWO)
  • iShares MSCI EAFE Index (NYSEArca: EFA)
  • iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index (NYSEArca: EEM)
  • SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD)
  • iShares Barclays TIPS Bond (NYSEArca: TIP)
  • iShares Russell 2000 Index (NYSEArca: IWM)
  • iShares Barclays Core Total U.S Bond Market ETF (NYSEArca: AGG)
  • iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond (NYSEArca: HYG)
  • iShares Russell 1000 Growth Index (NYSEArca: IWF)

For more information on ETF asset flows, visit our ETF performance reports category.

Max Chen contributed to this article.