Microsoft Bing Data Argues Search Engines Lead To More Purchases On Amazon

Some 71% of retail searches begin on a search engine and not on Amazon, according to data Microsoft will release this week, along with comScore numbers from January 2017. 

BloomReach data released in late September 2016 found 55% of consumers go to Amazon first to search for products, up from 44% in 2015.

Disputing those numbers, Microsoft data shows 70% of retail-related searches occur on Bing and Google search engines, and not on Amazon. About 27% of retail searchers are exclusive to Bing. They go to websites other than Amazon during their purchase journey.

"Search is like a billboard," said Christi Olson, search evangelist at Microsoft Bing. "Use the billboard to capture the attention of consumers before they go to Amazon."

The study aims to help advertisers determine when and where to invest their advertising budgets, based on consumer behavior. It's important for brands to start thinking about how the two mediums work together.

For example, when people are stick, the data suggests consumers will go to Bing first to search on non-brand and category related queries such as "cold symptoms" in addition to searching for products on Amazon.

Search behavior varies significantly across Bing and Amazon, based on the products people search for online. Often, someone searching on Bing for a specific product in one category will visit another site to make a purchase online or in the store, and then will jump to Amazon and search in a completely different category.

Of the 82% of searches that start on Bing in beauty products or fragrances, only 18% of consumers search in that category on Amazon. The same finding occurs frequency in kitchen and housewares. Of the 78% of searches that start on Bing in the category, only 22% of consumers search in that category on Amazon. Of the 77% of those searching on Bing in the toy category, 23% search in another category once on Amazon.

Olsen calls these "tangential searches." Consumers change focus once on Amazon because they realize they forgot to make a purchase in another category.

CPG products are not typically purchased online. Consumers will research the product online and buy in the store.

Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods could change this by using the company's same-day service to have products delivered, Olson said.

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