September 8, 2004, 12:00 AM

Search drives more visits in music site category than in retail in general

30.4% of U.S. visits to retail music sites started on search engines in July, versus 19.4% for the retail category overall, says Hitwise. Though their market share dropped, traditional music retailers still had 3.9 times more visits than download sites.


30.4% of U.S. visits to retail music sites started on search engines in July, exceeding the percentage of visits that originated in the same way for the overall retail category, 19.4%, according to a new report from web tracking company Hitwise.

“Search engines have long played a vital role in helping consumers navigate the Internet; however, they now are playing a monumental role in connecting music fans with music retailers,” says Bill Tancer, vice president of research at Hitwise. “For the music retailers, a major new customer acquisition platform has arrived.”

The higher percentage of visits driven by search to music sites than to retail sites overall indicates that retail music customers tend to know exactly what they are looking for online, according to Hitwise. That’s supported by the fact that search queries resulting in visits to retail music sites tended to be longer and more particular in nature. More than 53% of visits to retail music sites resulted from queries consisting of three or more words, compared with 48% for online retailers in general. This demonstrates that online music shoppers tend to be more specific in their search goals, says Tancer.

Among the 100 top music search terms, Hitwise found that in July, 50% of search queries that led to visits to retail music sites were brands-related – “bmgmusic,” for example – 21% were navigational and included a URL, while 29% were more generic keywords, such as “music downloads.”

With the retail music category, download sites grew 20.6% in market share in terms of U.S. visits between January 2004 and July 2004, while traditional music retailers lost market share at a rate of 9.1%. Still, however, traditional music retailers captured 3.9 times the number of U.S. visits that download sites did.


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