The Local Search Association (LSA) recently released the results of a media usage study that revealed which local media sources consumers utilized the most in the prior week and spanning the 142 most popular business categories. According to Damian Rollison, vice president of product and technology at Universal Business Listing, writing for StreetFight, the level of detail increases the study’s interest, with some unexpected results.

Other studies, much like this one, have long been performed and have long revealed some predictable trends. For instance, restaurants, doctors, and salons are consistently responsible for the majority of searches. Lower-volume searches for more occasional needs—roofing, chiropractors, and house cleaning—also consistently appear. Mr. Rollison also notes that a number of studies have documented the trend toward digital search over print and the rise of search engines, such as Google, over Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs) for so-called “closed-loop local searches.” The study also suggest an oversimplification concerning the more “complex media landscape consumers intuitively navigate in order to get their daily needs met in the local marketplace,” notes Mr. Rollison.

Not unexpectedly, restaurants, which are the most popular category, boast a more than three-fold increase over supermarkets, which come in second. Search engines are the most popular way in which consumers locate new restaurants with 71 percent of audience share, significantly stunting every other outlet such as “print yellow pages, online directories, daily deals, newspapers and magazines, and social media,” according to Mr. Rollison. Coming in second, and at only 26 percent, are review sites. While the study does not distinguish desktop from mobile searches, Mr. Rollison notes that the restaurant category is actually a model for what is likely typical for today’s consumers who use desktop and mobile interchangeably and using non-digital media rarely, if at all.

What came as a surprise was in the area of supermarkets in which the favored forms of search media involved a combination of digital and print. Print included “store circulars, email promotion, and coupons.” This segment, at 59 percent, of searches beat search engines, which came in at 41 percent. Newspapers and magazines came it at 30 percent, revealing that consumers are still comfortable receiving some of their information via print.

The study also revealed that not all searches are the same. For example, restaurant searches are typically for “novelty,” with digital media providing an optimum and fairly simple way in which to find a new business. The search for supermarkets tends to be more about locating weekly deals or coupons at familiar stores. According to Mr. Rollison, “The great inertia of tradition around the weekly shopping trip means that much of this information still resides in print.”

Meanwhile, physicians, the third most popular search category, saw 33 percent of search volume from print yellow pages with search engines at 54 percent. Print yellow pages are popularly used to locate plumbing contractors at 44 percent, according to the study, with search engines coming in close at 45 percent. Electrical contractors were also located more by print than digital (45 percent and 44 percent, respectively). Attorneys, dentists, landscapers, veterinarians, computer repair, appliance repair, roofing, and carpet cleaners, among others, account for 30 percent of search traffic via print yellow pages. Taxis also saw more print yellow pages (45 percent) when compared to search engines (34 percent), according to StreetFight.

The study concluded that print was used over digital for service businesses in which more money was being spent or in which a consumer sought to research a service professional with whom the consumer anticipated a long relationship. The study also revealed that the connection to print may be more widespread than previously believed—consider rural and older consumers—and should provide marketers with some insight into what aspects of print media should be looked at, said Mr. Rollison.


Rollison, Damian. StreetFightMag; Study Finds Consumer Search Preferences Depend Heavily on Type of Business; July 22, 2015.