June 21, 2005, 12:00 AM

51% of online adults use search engines for shopping

51% of online adults in the U.S. use search engines for shopping, according to a study released today by icrossing inc. The study also found that 56% of Internet users don’t know the difference between natural and paid search listings.

 

51% of online adults in the U.S. use search engines for shopping, according to a study released today by icrossing inc., a search engine marketing agency. The study also found that 56% of Internet users don’t know the difference between natural and paid search listings.

Of 1,047 adults using search engines for shopping, 80% use it to compare prices, the study found. Men are more likely than women to research products online (75% and 65%, respectively), while there isn’t a large gender difference among those looking for an online retailer.

Less than half the adults who use search engines for shopping are looking for a local retailer of specific products and services, according to the study. In addition, 50% or fewer users of each search engine-AOL, Ask Jeeves, Google, MSN, Yahoo/Overture and other-say they are looking for local offline stores where they can purchase.

Meanwhile, the icrossing study found that only 44% of Internet users say they know the difference between a sponsored or paid search engine result listing and a natural or non-sponsored result. Men are more likely to report knowing the difference than women (53% to 34%).

In addition, among Internet users with more than five years of online experience, 47% say they know the difference while 53% say they don’t. Only 29% of users with between three and five years of online experience indicated they know the difference, according to the study. Among those with less than three years of Internet experience, 40% say they understand the difference between sponsored and natural listings.

The study-How America Searches-is based on a Harris Interactive survey of 2,139 adults April 19-21. Icrossing commissioned Harris to conduct the study.

 

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