The Search Gap Between Consumers And Small Business Advertisers

For the several years Nielsen and local SEM platform provider WebVisible have done research tracking online consumer behavior related to local search. Here is our write up of the previous round of findings from the last survey (October, 2007). Over the weekend I got a preview of some of the data from the most recent survey findings.

This latest Nielsen-WebVisible survey captured responses from just under 4,000 U.S. internet users. The questions sought to determine which tools and media they were using to find local business and related information. In the sample were also 261 small business (SMB) owners. The most interesting high level finding, beyond the prominence of search engines, re-exposes the gap between consumer and SMB advertiser behavior.

Consumer data

Most commonly used local business information resources:

  1. 82% Search engines
  2. 57% Print yellow pages
  3. 53% Local newspapers
  4. 49% Internet yellow pages
  5. 49% Television
  6. 38% Direct mail
  7. 32% White pages directories

Primary tool/resource:

  1. Search engines — 50%
  2. Print yellow pages — 24%
  3. Online yellow pages — 10%

Changing consumer behavior patterns over the past two years:

There’s a net loss for all the print media.

But there’s a lag between the consumer behavior and what SMB advertisers are doing.

Small business advertiser data

Some caution should be used here because the sample size is small (n=261). But directionally the findings are consistent with other surveys in the market. The survey found that search engines were the top resource used by SMB owners for local lookups. This of course makes sense because SMBs are consumers as well.

The survey also found that 44% of SMBs have a website. Of those with a website:

  • 61% spend less than three hours a week marketing it
  • 51% believe their sites’ customer acquisition capability is “fair” or “poor”

Additional SMB advertiser findings:

  • 78% of SMB respondents said they dedicate 10% or less of their overall budget to marketing efforts.
  • 50% of survey respondents spent less than 10% of their marketing budget on internet advertising, while 30% of respondents did no internet advertising at all.
  • Only 26% have invested in search marketing to promote their business

Compare this to the finding that 82% of consumers use search engines to find local businesses.

Other relevant SMB advertiser and consumer data:

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Search Engines: Maps & Local Search Engines | Stats: NetRatings | Stats: Search Behavior

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • AJ

    Is WhitePages.com not on the list of tools used for searching people and businesses?

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