Internet searches play a major role in the research and purchase decision-making process of consumers in the market for a new or used vehicle, according to a study entitled 'Search, A Critical Component in the Auto Purchase Process' from Yahoo! and online market research firm Compete Inc.
The study, which tracked internet search and transaction activity over a 12-month period, analysed the online behaviour of a panel of two million users and surveyed more than 840 users that used search to research a recent automotive purchase or lease of a vehicle. Both web search and sponsored search activity (across Yahoo!, Google, Ask Jeeves, MSN, Lycos and Hotbot) were examined.
Key findings from the study included:
- One in five unique automotive visitors arrives at automotive web sites through an online search. Between July 2004 and June 2005, an average of 25 million people per month sought automotive information on one or more of 26 automotive sites tracked in the study. Within that period, search was responsible for delivering 19.1% of visitors to automotive web sites.
- Nearly 70% of automotive researchers who purchased a vehicle said search was the first thing they turned to for their research. The majority also believed that search results were instrumental in helping them find useful information regarding their vehicle purchase.
- Among automotive researchers who purchased a vehicle, search was considered the most credible source in helping with their purchase process. Almost 70% said they used search throughout the entire research and purchase process, and half of all buyers said that search helped them narrow down the list of vehicles they were considering before purchase.
- Vehicle researchers who arrived at automotive web sites via search engines viewed more than twice the number of pages per session than those who arrived by other means, and spent twice as much time reading online automotive information.
Getting in earlier
According to Don Aydon, automotive category director for Yahoo! Search Marketing, "Vehicle buyers are increasingly using search engines to simplify the process. We believe this research will help auto marketers better understand how search can help them reach actively engaged consumers and influence their purchase decisions earlier on in their shopping process."