SOURCE: TMP Directional Marketing

October 09, 2008 08:00 ET

With No Distinct Winner, Marketers Need a Diverse Local Search Marketing Mix, According to Second Annual TMP Directional Marketing Research Study

Major Findings Show Consumer Online Local Research Growing, While Majority of Purchases Still Made Offline; Mobile Search Usage on the Upswing

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - October 9, 2008) - TMP Directional Marketing (TMPDM), the largest local search marketing agency, announced today the findings of its second annual Local Search Usage Study conducted by comScore, which confirms shoppers still use a variety of online and offline directional media resources to find local business information.

According to the study, the first sources used are Search Engines (31%), Print Yellow Pages or White Pages (30%), Internet Yellow Pages Sites (19%) and Local Search Sites (11%). This represents a change from last year's study, which ranked Print Yellow Pages first (33%), followed by Search Engines (30%).

"As consumer local search grows with online and offline resources, national advertisers must develop strategic plans for integrating the various mediums into their national programs," said Gregg Stewart, senior vice president of interactive, TMPDM. "Our 2008 study again confirms that consumers do a majority of research online, but continue to make purchases offline with a phone call or in-store visit. Additionally, marketers need to pay close attention to mobile search and sites that offer consumer user reviews, as they are growing in popularity."

Consumers Continue to Research Online, Buy Offline

Although the online channel is the primary source of local research, purchases are most often made offline. Following online local searches, consumers most often contact a business over the telephone (39%), visit the business in-person (32%) or contact the business online (12%).

Most likely due to rising gas prices, more consumers in 2008 contacted a business via the telephone than in-person, after a successful local business search. In 2007, local business searchers were equally likely to contact the business via telephone or in-person.

Mobile and Voice Search Usage is on the Rise

TMPDM's study demonstrates that 1 out of 5 local business searchers with an Internet-accessible cell phone have conducted a local search via the mobile Web. Smartphone owners and those that own Wi-Fi enabled devices (such as the iPhone) are the most likely to conduct local business search via the mobile Web, with more than half of these respondents reporting mobile local business searching.

Additionally, 22 percent of these respondents reported that they've called directory assistance from their mobile phone, with 411 acquiring the highest reach (64%) followed by free directory assistance provider 1-800-FREE411 (29%).

"There are 228 million mobile subscribers in the U.S., up 6 percent from August 2007 to 2008. Also, we are seeing tremendous growth in mobile browsing, up 45 percent over the same time period," said Serge Matta, senior vice president of comScore. "We can expect mobile Web penetration and engagement to keep rising as connection speeds increase, data plan prices decrease and smartphones become more mainstream."

Print Yellow Pages Still a Valuable Offline Resource

comScore research indicates that 30 percent of respondents still rely on directories as their primary local business research source, despite a 3 percent decline from 2007 to 2008.

Additionally:

--  90 percent of those surveyed find directories a valuable source for
    business information.
--  86 percent of respondents have a print directory in their home.
--  While respondents are more satisfied with the business information
    provided by online sources, 73 percent are extremely or somewhat satisfied
    with print Yellow Pages -- a 4 percent increase from last year's study.
    

Other Key Findings

Other TMPDM findings include that traditional IYP sites such as Superpages.com, YELLOWPAGES.COM, Yahoo! Yellowpages.com, etc. account for 60 percent of local IYP business searches, while Local Search sites such as Google Maps, MapQuest, Yahoo! Local, etc. account for 40 percent of local IYP business searches.

Also, usage of consumer reviews by IYP and Local Search Site users increased to 22 percent among IYP searchers (+6 percent from 2007) and to 32 percent among Local Searchers (+6 percent from 2007).

Based on an online survey of 3,000 respondents, TMPDM's Local Search Usage Study monitored shifts in consumer usage and opinions of General Search Portals, Local Search Sites, Print and Internet Yellow Pages and Mobile Search as they relate to finding local business information. For more information about TMPDM's Local Search Usage Study, please visit http://www.tmpdm.com.

TMP Directional Marketing

TMP Directional Marketing (TMPDM) is the largest local search marketing agency, offering online, offline and mobile advertising solutions to top national brands. Combining its years of success in Yellow Pages advertising with online search expertise gained as a former unit of Monster.com, TMPDM serves hundreds of clients, including nearly 100 Fortune 500 companies. Privately held by the Audax Group, TMPDM is headquartered in New York with 600 employees and 15 offices in the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit www.tmpdm.com.

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