Study: Online Buyers Use Search Throughout Purchasing Process

Online buyers use search engines to find vendors early and often in their purchasing process, a new study found.

Half of online purchases are preceded by research on a search engine, according to the study released yesterday by DoubleClick Inc., New York, comScore and DoubleClick's search marketing division, Performics.

Also, three of four travel buyers consult search engines before making a purchase, and they have about six relevant searches in the 12 weeks before making a purchase.

Buyers on fitness and sports sites conducted 2.5 relevant searches in the 12 weeks before a purchase, apparel buyers made 4.7 relevant searches and computer hardware buyers made 4.9.

Most online buyers favor generic terms, such as "running shoes," early in the buying cycle rather than searching for a specific brand. Brand-specific searches accounted for only 18 percent to 28.5 percent of searches.

"The findings ... suggest to marketers that there is an opportunity to attract and engage searchers throughout the buying cycle, and not only with their own branded keywords," said Stuart Larkins, vice president of partner services at Performics. "Generic keywords provide greater reach for marketers and contribute to the overall lift in a search program."

Christine Blank covers online marketing and advertising, including e-mail marketing and paid search, for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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