March 9, 2010, 12:00 AM

Real-time search results are making only a minor impression among shoppers

More than half of consumers in a recent eye-tracking study could easily find real-time results offered via a Google search, according to digital marketing firm Oneupweb.

More than half of consumers in a recent eye-tracking study could easily find real-time results offered via a Google search, according to digital marking firm Oneupweb.

The group conducted a study in February with 44 volunteers, half of which were told to search for specific products-say, a particular brand of pancake mix-while the other half were asked to search for product information-news or general information about pancakes. Analyzing both group’s eye movements, Oneupweb study found that 55% of participants could recognize real-time results related to the search, such as postings via Twitter or blogs.

“A good portion of the people didn’t realize what real-time results were,” says Maureen Michaels, corporate communications manager for Oneupweb. “People are not used to seeing them.”

Study participants looking for specific products were less likely than those looking for more general information to notice real-time results, she says. “If you are looking for a product, you are more honed in on that product,” she adds. “If you are looking for information, you are more open to seeing what is presented in other forms.”

Despite the lack of awareness among many consumers to real-time results via search engines, retailers have to pay attention to the presence of those results, Michaels says. If a consumer spreads negative information about a brand via Twitter, and that post makes it a search engine result page, that information could dissuade shoppers from buying that brand’s products.

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