Most PC buyers use the Internet as research tool

Potential buyers of computer hardware on average do a great deal of research on new kit before buying. The last thing they investigate before making a purchase is the brand.

Companies like Dell already spend millions of dollars in buying generic terms such as ‘computer’ in Google’s AdWords programme. The results will reinforce their belief that by capturing such words early in the cycle, they can influence buyers’ behaviour even though they are not yet consciously looking for the vendor.

The results were part of a survey carried out by comScore and commissioned by online advertising company DoubleClick. It found that well over half over those looking to buy computer hardware spent time researching what they wanted before making their online purchase. On average, potential buyers of computer equipment made almost five online searches about a particular product before getting out their credit card.

The survey also found that despite the millions spent in ‘brand awareness’ buyers rarely went straight to a particular vendor’s website. Instead, they investigate what is out there by making so-called ‘generic’ searches on terms like ‘cheap laptops’ or ‘desktop PC’. Over 80 per cent of such searches and clicks were on such generic terms.

The picture is even starker when it comes to looking across all searches. A full 92 per cent of searchers looked at generic terms. In comparison only 27.2 per cent of searches were for a brand such as Dell or Hewlett Packard. Finally, 12.8 per cent of searchers asked for a particular brand item. DoubleClick says that the figures add up to more than 100 per cent as searchers made use of more than one search term.

However, the brand comes into its own in the final stages of the process as buyers choose their vendor.

Even more concerning for PC vendors is the revelation that over half of buyers made their last search two or more weeks before the actual purchase. This is significant because often when a customer clicks on their ad they will drop a cookie on the inquirer’s machine. Therefore they can track a final purchase back to the ad that originally alerted the buyer’s interest. However, many of these cookies expire after a few days so, as far the seller is concerned, the trail has gone cold.

As a result DoubleClick is advising that vendors should set cookie duration to up to 30 days to capture the full picture.

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