As online search activity continues to grow in usage and intensity, new data show local searches now account for 13 percent of all core search activity on top web search portals as of January 2011. Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) and local search sites also exhibited strong growth with 5.6 billion local searches in 2010, a 15 percent increase over 2009.
The State of Local Search study conducted by comScore, Inc. looks at the online local search industry and explores local business search behaviors, highlighting usage trends and profiling searchers and their engagement with search options.
Brand Recognition Key Driver of Internet Yellow Pages Searches
In the survey, 58 percent of respondents who choose an IYP site first, like DexKnows, Superpages, Yellowbook and YP.com, do so due to brand recognition and reputation. Nearly a third (30 percent) indicated they chose an IYP site first because of its reputation for local business information.
Portal searchers were more likely to conduct local searches as part of broad information gathering, while primary IYP searchers reported conducting local searches to look for contact information with specific products or services in mind. Despite differences in usage frequency and site preference, over half of local business searchers choosing portal or IYP sites as primary local search sites, are highly satisfied and find success in their search experience.
"The comScore study proves that convenience, trust, and brand are all important in attracting the local searcher," said Neg Norton, president, Local Search Association. "We know that consumers consult multiple sources of information, but the local search providers that offer all three attributes to the consumer will be in a good position to deliver to the advertiser. Internet Yellow Pages retains a significant level of brand recognition and reputation among consumers – with 58 percent citing the brand as a reason for visiting – which reinforces the value of IYP sites for local businesses."
Apps Use for Mobile Search Skyrockets While Online Local Coupon Adoption Grows
The study shows significant growth in mobile local search use, which provides opportunities for local businesses to engage with potential customers via mobile. In January 2011, 77.1 million mobile subscribers accessed local content on a mobile device, up 34 percent from the previous year. Local content users accounted for 33 percent of mobile subscribers, with 87 percent owning a GPS-capable handset (up 9 percent from the previous year).
An analysis of core mobile usage behaviors showed local content dominating, as mobile subscribers increasingly turn to their mobile phones for information on maps, weather, traffic, retail and other local content.
App use for mobile local content grew 34 percent, with 56 percent of respondents using apps for local content. Browsers lead in usage of local content with 73 percent, dropping from 75 percent last year. Local content via SMS dropped to 25 percent from 30 percent.
Online daily deal offers and discounts have also emerged as an additional customer acquisition channel for local businesses. The comScore study found that primary IYP searchers were less likely to report purchasing online daily deal coupons for local businesses than business searchers on other sites (27 percent vs. 38 percent).
"Daily deals represent a big opportunity for Internet Yellow Pages," said Gillian Heltai, Senior Director at comScore. "We see many new entrants to the daily deal space, but awareness is a big issue; with IYP sites already interacting with local business searchers that are in the purchase funnel, there is the prospect of intercepting shoppers who are looking to buy and could become return customers."
"The market is changing so rapidly that small businesses need a trusted advisor to help them sort through the complexity," said Norton. "This is particularly true with trends in the mobile space and daily deals. Small- and medium-size businesses are still working to understand how to be effective and use these tools to their advantage."
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