Commentary

Online Searches Precipitate Offline Buying

Online Searches Precipitate Offline Buying

A recently released comScore research study confirms the importance of search influence of offline buying. 63 percent of searchers completed a purchase in offline retail stores following their search activity, while 25 percent of searchers purchased an item directly related to their query, with more than 1/3 of them buying online. The study reflects the searching behavior of 83 million Americans who conducted more than 552 million searches in 2005 in the categories analyzed using one or more of the 24 leading search engines.

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 James Lamberti, vice president of comScore Search Marketing Solutions, said "... the important role of search in influencing consumers' purchase behavior both online and offline... can often be responsible for the major portion of the overall financial return from investments in search marketing."

 John McAteer, head of retail, Google, the research sponsor, said "This research helps quantify exactly how influential search really is for the overall buying process."

More than 80 percent of buyer conversions occurred offline in categories such as Consumer Electronics, Toys & Hobbies, Video Games and Consoles, and Music/Movies/Videos.  

Buyer Conversion for Select Product Categories (% of Buyers)

Category Searched

Buyer Conversion

Conversion Offline

Conversion Online

Average, All Categories

25%

63%

37%

Apparel & Accessories

43%

65%

35%

Toys & Hobbies

42%

88%

12%

Music/Movies/Videos

28%

83%

17%

Consumer Electronics

18%

84%

16%

Video Games & Consoles

17%

93%

7%

Jewelry & Watches

15%

75%

25%

Source: comScore Networks/Google, March 2006

This study found that more than half of consumers' online holiday buying actually happened in subsequent Internet sessions, clearly demonstrating the strong latent impact of search. 

Conversion for Select eCommerce Categories  (% buyers)

Category Searched

Latent Buyers

Direct Buyers

Average, All Categories

56%

44%

Music, Movies, Video

77%

23%

Computers, Peripherals, PDAs

69%

31%

Home & Garden

69%

31%

Toys & Hobbies

61%

39%

Video Game Consoles

58%

42%

Jewelry & Watches

57%

43%

Source: comScore Networks/Google, March 2006

Among the 83 million consumers who searched in one or more of the eleven product categories analyzed during the holiday season, the 8.6 million who subsequently bought online were much more intense users of search across all product categories, performing nearly ten times the number of searches compared to non-buyers. 

Additionally, the study indicates that 60 percent of all searchers started their search process before November 15, 2005.  For search advertisers, these statistics imply that holiday-season advertising budgets should be sufficiently large and applied early enough to cover for the aggressive search behavior of buyers.

Search Intensity and Conversion by Largest Search Categories (% of searchers) 

 

Total Category Searches (Millions)

 Online Conversion

Searches per Searcher

 Searches per Buyer

All Categories

552.5

10.4%

6.7%

65.1%

Home & Garden

121.0

4.4

3.1

70.2

Consumer Electronics

74.3

 2.8

2.5

88.0

Music, Movies, Video

66.6

4.7

2.8

59.0

Toys & Hobbies

59.5

5.2

2.4

46.2

Apparel & Accessories

40.8

15.0

2.3

15.4

Source: comScore Networks/Google, March 2006

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