For the study, comScore analyzed the searches by 1.5 million consumers on its panel throughout all of 2004. The study defined local search as a search conducted by querying on both a keyword and the name of a city, state, or a ZIP code or telephone number, at America Online, Ask Jeeves, Google, MSN, or Yahoo! (excluding the sites' Yellow Pages sections). Researchers also looked at 150 Internet Yellow Pages sites.
Search engines accounted for 66 percent of local searchers in the five categories studied, while Internet Yellow Pages sites and Yellow Pages channels accounted for 34 percent of local searches.
But searchers who used an online business directory were more likely than those who used local search engines to engage in certain transactions online, including renting a car, filling a pharmaceutical prescription, and purchasing furniture. Those who used local search engines were more likely to convert by applying for a credit card or mortgage, making a food or beverage purchase, buying art, and other activities.
"No one player has all the tools to provide a fantastic experience for the consumer themselves," said Neg Norton, president of the Yellow Pages Association. "The consumer behavior on an IYP [Internet Yellow Pages] site is very similar to consumer behavior using the print Yellow Pages," he added. "It is a ready-to-buy consumer."
Within the car, drugstore, house and garden, and restaurant categories, Internet Yellow Pages users who convert spend more money per purchase on average than do converting local search engine users. For instance, in the health and beauty category, online directory users spend an average of $80 per month online, compared to local search engine users' $65, while for home and garden purchases, Internet Yellow Pages users spend an average of $118 online each month, compared to $99 by local searchers.
The report also revealed that consumers who use Internet Yellow Pages are 10 to 15 percent more likely than search engine users to have a household income greater than $75,000.