MSN, AOL push searchers to retail

When it comes to search marketing for retailers, social networking sites and two of the smaller search engines are gaining in importance, according to two new reports.

ComScore looked at how well the top search engines direct click-throughs to retail sites and found that Google Web Search, which accounted for 57.3 percent of all click-throughs in March, directed 53.8 percent of the click-throughs to retail sites. Yahoo Web Search directed 27.2 percent of click-throughs to retail sites.

Though accounting for a smaller share of total click- throughs than Google and Yahoo, both MSN and AOL still put in strong performances. Specifically, MSN Web Search was 17 percent more likely than expected to direct searchers to retail sites, while AOL Search was 20 percent more likely.

“Search marketers need to understand the dynamics of their industry with respect to where their click-throughs originate, as certain search engines could have stronger performance relative to the overall search market,” James Lamberti, senior vice president of comScore Search Solutions, said in a statement.

The other interesting information comes from Hitwise, which is presenting data at the Internet Retailer show today in San Jose, CA. It claims the top 20 social networking Web sites grew as a source of traffic for shopping and classifieds Web sites in May, accounting for 3.6 percent of upstream visits, an increase of 86.7 percent since last year.

MySpace, the leading social network, accounted for 3.2 percent of upstream visits to shopping and classifieds Web sites in May.

While overall growth from search engines has slowed, Google is still the most prominent source of traffic for shopping and classifieds Web sites and is growing more rapidly as a source of shopping traffic than the search engine category as a whole, according to Hitwise.

Search engines were responsible for 25 percent of visits going to shopping and classifieds Web sites in May, an increase of 0.7 percent. Google accounted for 15.6 percent of shopping and classifieds upstream visits during the same period, an increase of 8.7 percent from last year.

Single word search queries accounted for 23.7 percent of search terms sending traffic to shopping and classifieds Web sites in May, a gain of 20 percent over May 2005, according to Hitwise, New York.

In March, nearly 20 billion sponsored links were served to U.S. Internet users from the top search engines, according to comScore, Reston, VA. The top 10 paid search advertisers, generating 16 percent of all sponsored links, were either retail or comparison shopping sites.

At the top of the list was eBay with 802 million sponsored link exposures, followed by with 366 million and with 357 million.

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