New Nielsen Search Data and Local Growth

As Danny Sullivan points out, Nielsen now puts Google at a 50% search market share in the US. The Nielsen, Hitwise and comScore numbers often vary by several percentage points. However, directionally they trend the same way. What is meaningful about this data is the show of strength and continuing growth that Google is demonstrating in a fiercely competitive market. In many markets abroad, Google has more than 50%.

Though important, the US stock market is too focused on search market share. This is a dramatic story (“who will win?”) playing out in the press that obscures other important factors and considerations. For example, Yahoo has more uniques than any other site online but typically doesn’t get any credit for that in the media and not much on Wall Street. That’s partly because the “search wars” story is highly dramatic and “sexier.”

From my point of view, what is more interesting about the release today is that it shows the growth of Local (but not small business in this case). All of the top five shopping queries according to Nielsen are ultimately local:

  1. “home depot”
  2. “walmart”
  3. “target”
  4. “sears”
  5. “best buy”

This is more confirmation of a pattern that I started writing about long ago and have continued to track: online shopping, offline buying. (Of course I’m not the only person doing so.) The Internet is driving offline store sales, in this case at big box retailers. The likely use case here is “I want it now.”

All of these retailers have a significant web presence and powerful e-commerce capabilities. But the immediacy of the consumer need for that Memorial Day BBQ (which I’ll be buying later today) or digital camera or stroller, and so on, cause people to determine what they want to buy and then locate the physical store where they can buy it today or this weekend. People don’t want to wait, pay shipping, may need to see/touch the product or desired purchase and may want to return it. All these factors mean that offline will continue to trump e-commerce in a big way, despite its continuing, impressive growth. But the Internet — and search according to Nielsen — will continue to be a big driver of those offline referrals.

However, there’s another layer of complexity here. Many of those queries above may well have been “white pages” lookups or direct navigation. In other words, people who have done their research (see this post) and are merely seeking to find those particular stores. One of the reasons that trademark and brand terms “convert” so well is that people have made up their minds and are simply navigating at that point, although that certainly doesn’t cover all use cases.

It’s at the generic or category keyword level where the real battle is for consumer awareness – and that’s where 75%-80% of the traffic is. This is where search becomes the doorway into consumer product research. But that’s a longer digression.

The Nielsen data above support the argument that all of the shopping comparison engines will ultimately want to offer inventory information (via Channel Intelligence, ShopLocal, StepUp) to accomodate the majority of shoppers who want to shop online but find where they can buy something in a local store.

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5 Responses to “New Nielsen Search Data and Local Growth”

  1. domelhor.net Says:

    Google acima dos 50% nos EUA

    Confirmando a tendncia noutros paises, onde alis chega a atingir quotas de mercado acima dos 70% o Google ultrapassou a barreira dos 50%- mais do que todos os outros motores de busca reunidos!

  2. Screenwerk » Blog Archive » TAC: How Much Will Google Pay MySpace? Says:

    [...] Screenwerk Greg Sterling’s Musings on Offline and Online Media « New Nielsen Search Data and Local Growth [...]

  3. John K Says:

    Get a Weber Genesis Silver B. Should be under $400…

  4. Screenwerk » Blog Archive » Local Shopping and the BBQ Challenge Says:

    [...] In my earlier post about Nielsen data, I mentioned that I was going to get a new BBQ this weekend. We had to get rid of our old one several months ago. Our experience in trying to find a particular model in a local store has been interesting and representative of larger issues in the local marketplace. Over a period of a couple of days, my wife and I used the Internet to compare models and do price research. We clicked on paid and organic links, mainly for navigation. [...]

  5. Shaun Says:

    Our retail customers definitely see this happening. This makes it more difficult to track paid search properly – see more details here: http://blog.sli-systems.com/2006/05/online_shopping_offline_buying.html

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