Search Drives CPG Visits

NEW YORK A newly released study conducted for Procter & Gamble, Yahoo! and a search industry trade group found Internet users turn to search engines not just for high-consideration products like cars and vacations, but commodities like food and household products.

According to the study, conducted by comScore Media Metrix this spring, nearly half of the visitors to food product Web sites come via search engines. For baby products, 60 percent arrived via search. Personal care items like paper towels and toilet paper and household products were lower, with 27 percent and 23 percent, respectively, coming through engines.

Search marketing has long been favored by companies that either sell goods online or that have long sales cycles that require research, such as car brands. But consumer packaged-goods makers do not spend at nearly the same levels.

“More and more consumers find themselves not only searching not just high-involvement goods but also low involvement,” said Randy Peterson, search innovation manager at P&G. “Search has worked its way down the chain.”

ComScore surveyed site visitors, finding those who arrived via search engines were more likely to be interested in information and help making a product decision. Those who did not use search were more likely interested in promotions.

P&G buys ads tied to its brand terms, Peterson said, in addition to its marketing messages. The company also buys ads for searches on problems that P&G products can solve.

The study found that visitors from search report about 20 percent higher category spending than non-search visitors. Peterson, who declined to give P&G’s search spending levels, said the data would help inform the CPG giant’s media mix.

“This is one part of the puzzle of how much money should CPGs be spending on search,” he said. “For some brands, it will open up their eyes.”