Nearly all consumers (97%) now use online media when researching products or services locally, according to a new report from BIA/Kelsey and ConStat.
Among consumers surveyed, 90 percent use search engines, 48 percent use Internet Yellow Pages, 24 percent use vertical sites, and 42 percent use comparison shopping sites.
"The Internet has indeed become an integral part of consumers' local commercial activity," said Steve Marshall, director of research, BIA/Kelsey.
"The data suggest we're at an inflection point where the balance of power in local shopping is shifting to online."
The study found on average, consumers are using 7.9 different media sources when shopping for products or services locally, up from 6.5 sources in 2009 and 5.8 in 2008, indicating an increase in audience fragmentation.
Additional finding include:
* 58 percent of respondents report using an online coupon when shopping for products or services in their local area in the past year.
* 19 percent of respondents made an appointment online in the past six months for a service besides a restaurant reservation (e.g., business appointment, health-care appointment, auto service or personal service).
"The increase in audience fragmentation presents challenges for advertisers looking to connect with local consumers," said Peter Krasilovsky, vice president and program director, Marketplaces, BIA/Kelsey.
"These challenges may be outweighed by the targeting opportunities available with tools like coupon promotions and appointment scheduling, the latter being among the best lead sources possible, since you know where people are actually going."