Generic Searches Lead to Online Purchases

    February 18, 2005

A joint study by DoubleClick and comScore Networks suggests that many consumers conduct product-related searches weeks in advance of purchase and they prefer generic, non-branded, search terms.

According to the report, approximately 77 percent of keyword searches conducted by buyers across all four categories are generic, compared to 23 percent that are brand-only or a branded word plus another item.

Many online marketers measure search marketing campaign effectiveness based on clicks that lead to a purchase in the same session or within a few days of purchase.

However, the study finds most buyers complete their relevant search activity well in advance of the online purchase. In the travel category, 64.7 percent of buyers’ final searches occurred at least two weeks before the purchase; 21.6 percent searched a week or more before buying; and 23.8 percent bought during the same session.

Next time your SEM tells you that you should focus on brand-related search terms, make sure they’ve already tapped into the traffic from generic phrases.

Andy Beal is an internet marketing consultant and considered one of the world’s most respected and interactive search engine marketing experts. Andy has worked with many Fortune 1000 companies such as Motorola, CitiFinancial, Lowes, Alaska Air, DeWALT, NBC and Experian.

You can read his internet marketing blog at Marketing Pilgrim and reach him at