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Enterprise IT Buyers Rely Most On Search For Information

The survey results, which show online search is the most popular source of information for corporate buyers, offers some insight into Google's focus on enterprise customers.

Enterprise IT buyers rely more heavily on search than other media throughout the purchase process, according to a recently completed study by market research firm Millward Brown on behalf of Google Inc.

Based on 900 respondents who had corporate purchase involvement in enterprise application software, security software, or storage for servers, the study shows that in the research phase, buyers turned to search 30% more frequently than trade publications, the next most popular source of information, and five times more than E-mail newsletters.

During the final purchase phase, buyers used search 62% more often than trade publications. Across the various phases of IT purchasing, from research to comparison to buying, search ranked second as a source of information, behind manufacturer Web sites.

While Google hasn't officially released the study, a spokesman says the company plans to publish the findings in a white paper in the next few weeks.

The results of the survey offer some insight into Google's focus on enterprise customers, which CEO Eric Schmidt explained last month in an interview with InformationWeek by saying, "On a general basis, they're more highly paid than the average customer. They do more searches. They're a better advertising target."

While the report may seem more like an advertisement for Google than a study about advertising, JupiterResearch advertising analyst Gary Stein says that there's something to the findings. "In this case, it's actually accurate, self-serving though it may be," he says. "It matches what our research says. For B-to-B, it makes a lot of sense, because people are looking for fairly specific things."

The Millward Brown report underscores related findings released last month by research and consulting firm Outsell Inc. that the rising search-advertising revenue of Google and Yahoo is cutting into the growth of established information-industry players.

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