There is no shortage of data on the growth of the local search market. Estimates of ad dollar expenditures abound, and the importance of various local search players is continually evaluated.
But shouldn’t the first question be: Who is the online local searcher?
New local search usage data from comScore Networks begin to answer this question, showing key differences between local searchers of Internet yellow pages and users of search engines.
The study, one of the first of its kind, tracked 1.5 million Internet consumers’ actual search behavior on 150 IYPs and on the five engines that make up 98 percent of search engine queries: AOL, Ask Jeeves, Google, MSN and Yahoo. ComScore’s “Local Search Consumer Behavior Study,” sponsored by the Yellow Pages Association, confirmed several elements about IYP and search engine users.
For example, search engines receive greater traffic while IYP searchers more often are ready to buy. Results showed that IYP searchers are more likely to make a purchase within a month of their local search.
Though engines get 58 percent of local searches compared with 42 percent for IYPs, IYPs offer a more attractive demographic audience to online advertisers in key spending categories.
Measurements of online and offline purchasing behavior found that IYP users spend more per buyer than search engine users in categories such as automotive, restaurants, drugstores and home and garden. Search engines ranked well in categories including gaming, sports, books and computer hardware.
Other findings indicated that IYP searchers are 10 percent to 15 percent more likely to have an annual household income exceeding $75,000 and are 25 percent more likely to have a broadband connection. IYP users are 5 percent more likely to belong to the desirable 25-44 age demographic while high search engine use was recorded among teens.
The study affirms that IYP users’ behavior is consistent with what has been true for years with users of print yellow pages. Like print versions, IYPs are used by consumers who are ready to buy. This is why, historically, print and Internet yellow pages have provided advertisers a compelling return on investment.
In the quest to target advertisers, the local search industry must continue to serve consumers’ information needs. After all, what value does advertising have if the right message isn’t reaching the right audience at the right time? A challenge for search engines and IYPs will be to continue to develop their products through similar behavioral research so that advertisers use the most appropriate online mediums.
For more articles from The Direct Marketer’s Essential Guide to Search Engine Marketing, visit www.dmnews.com/search .
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