May 13, 2004, 12:00 AM

Canadians are prime targets for Internet search marketing, study says

Internet search marketing in Canada as a percent of online advertising revenue lags that in the U.S., even though Canadians are more active than U.S. web users in using Internet search, comScore Networks Inc. says in its first qSearch Canada report.

Internet search marketing in Canada as a percent of online advertising revenue lags that in the U.S., even though Canadian web users, with a heavy concentration of broadband web access, are more active than their U.S. counterparts in using Internet search, comScore Networks says in its first qSearch Canada report.

The report tracks search engine usage by analyzing actual search queries across multiple search engines and portals. It notes that Canadians are not only more likely than U.S. residents to use an Internet search engine, they also search more often. In the past year, about 85% of Canadian Internet users conducted at least one search at a leading search engine each month, compared to 73% of U.S. Internet users, the report says. It adds that, in April 2004, Canadian web users conducted about 575 million searches at major engines, or 40 searches per search engine user, compared to about 3.6 million searches by U.S. residents, or 35 per searcher.

"With more than 60 percent of home users accessing the Web through a broadband connection, it didn`t surprise us to find that Canadians are more frequent search engine users," said Brent Lowe-Bernie, president of comScore Media Metrix Canada.

Ironically, however, online advertising in Canada accounted for only 1.5% of total advertising revenue last year, a rate less than half of the 3.3% that online advertising accounted for in the U.S., comScore says. Moreover, search engine marketing in the U.S. has grown to become the single largest segment of online advertising revenue, accounting for 35% of total Internet advertising spending last year – a development that points to similar marketing opportunities in Canada, comScore says. "With qSearch data showing that Canadians are heavier online searchers than Americans, clearly a similar opportunity for commercialization exists in Canada," the report says.

The report also shows differences in the way Canadian and U.S. Internet users rely on particular search engines. While Canadians overwhelmingly favor Google, which accounts for 62% of their searches, U.S. Internet users split their searches more evenly between Google, 36%, and Yahoo, 30%. But Yahoo accounts for only 15% of searches by Canadians, followed by MSN, 12% and all others combined, 12%.

In the U.S., MSN accounts for 16% of searches, while all others account for 18%.


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