October 16, 2008, 12:00 AM

Non-branded Internet searches often lead to delayed purchases, study says

Only 30% of purchases driven by non-branded Internet searches occur within the same online session when consumers conduct an initial search, according to a study by research firm Compete Inc.

Only 30% of purchases driven by non-branded Internet searches occur within the same online session when consumers conduct an initial search, according to a study by researchers Compete Inc.

“If you’re looking narrowly at what happens immediately in a typical cost per action model, looking for a direct and immediate purchase, you’re likely to undervalue search because you’ll miss most of the purchases occurring later,” says Matt Pace, director of retail and consumer products at Compete.

The study, which was commissioned by search engine Google Inc., also found that 37% of online consumers were most likely to use only non-branded keywords in searches leading up to purchases.

In many product categories such as automobiles, many consumers use both branded and non-branded terms in Internet searches. “But among retail purchasers, most searches were in one or the other, branded or non-branded, and that was a great surprise to us,” says David Kaul, vertical business specialist at Google.

51% of consumers were most likely to use branded terms in searches leading to online purchases, and only 12% were mostly likely to use both branded and unbranded terms, the study found.

The study also notes that 70% of purchases stemming from non-branded searches occur in later online sessions. Of that 70%, 16% of the purchases occur as a result of subsequent Internet searches and 54% during non-search-driven online sessions.

In other findings, the study found that paid search is up to 50% more likely to lead to a purchase than natural search, and that up to 43% of online searchers in the mass merchant category made an in-store purchase as a result of an Internet search.

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