The results of the Annual Local Search Study conducted by TMP Directional Marketing and comScore have been released. Additionally comScore has also conducted a comparative study of media trends and consumer behavior regarding local search over the last 3 years.
The study was conducted through an online questionnaire, answered by 4,000 users and through a behavioral study across 2 million users.
The results show that the number of people depending on digital sources for local sources is increasing along with the number of digital sources available.
Thus search engines have now become the primary source of local information, while the print media seems to be declining.
The number of local business searchers who own print directories has gone down from 89% in 2008 to 84% in 2009. The use of Internet Yellow Pages however has been increasing steadily.
While the online media is obviously prospering, the offline media also continues to hold a fairly steady following especially among users over 45 years of age. 40% of this section of users, uses the print directories, while only 24% of them use search engines by choice.
Social media and mobile searches are also growing sources of local business information and thought hey account for only 1% and 3% of market share respectively, they are definitely on the upswing and marketers would do well to keep this in mind.
Not surprisingly, Google Maps has improved their market share of local search from 15% in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 24% in the second quarter of 2009.
The usage of consumer ratings and reviews has gone up from 22% in 2008 to 25% in 2009 among Internet Yellow page searchers, and has gone up from 22% to 27% among general searchers. While the overall usage of ratings is only 24%, it goes up to 57% during the business selection process as users depend on these reviews while selecting companies whom they wish to do business with.
The availability of smartphones has also increased the use of mobile search. While only 19% of regular mobile users use mobile search, 60% of smartphone users do so, and this may well become the primary source of local search in time to come.