Search Found Driving Offline Buys

NEW YORK More than half of purchases related to consumer Internet searches occur offline, according to a new study by Google and ComScore Networks.

The Internet giant teamed with the Reston, Va., research firm to examine consumer search and purchase behavior. It found that 25 percent of searchers for product information in several categories eventually made purchases. Of those, about 37 percent happened online, with the rest happening in stores.

The study confirms earlier research ComScore has done with Yahoo, which found 92 percent of purchases related to consumer electronics occurred offline. That report was completed in December 2004.

ComScore looked at search behavior of its panel participants over November and December in 11 product categories, including apparel, electronics and jewelry. It used data culled from activity on 24 search engines.

Searches in some categories were much more likely to result in an in-store purchase than via e-commerce. Buyers who looked for information about video games, for example, visited stores for the product 93 percent of the time. That figure was above 80 percent for the electronics, music and toys categories.

The Yahoo and Google studies are part of an effort by the search giants to prove the medium’s worth beyond directly measured Internet sales. “This research helps quantify exactly how influential search is for the overall buying process,” said John McAteer, head of retail at Google, in a statement.