RealTime IT News

Study: AOL Is Leading Driver of E-Commerce

Los Angeles-based BizRate.com, an e-commerce research and "infomediary" firm, said its research shows that America Online is the leading portal in terms of online purchase referrals on the Web.

According to BizRate.com research conducted Feb. 17 to March 16, 7.9 percent of online purchasers cited AOL as the company that referred them to the site on which they made their purchase.

The findings also revealed that two-thirds of all online buyers (67 percent) were referred by another online source. Offline sources accounted for 33 percent of referrals, broken down as follows: print media (14 percent), word-of-mouth (7 percent), television (2 percent), radio (1 percent) and "other" (9 percent).

Other top portals ranked as follows: Yahoo! was second behind AOL with 4.1 percent of all referrals, followed by Netscape at 3.0 percent, Excite at 2.4 percent, Alta Vista at 2.2 percent, and MSN at 1.3 percent.

Other portals making the top 10 were Infoseek, Hotbot, Lycos and GoTo.com.

According to BizRate.com's analysis of the same period, 47 percent of purchases were from repeat buyers at a given online store. Further, 90 percent of all purchases were from individuals who had previously made purchases at an online store somewhere on the Web.

Interestingly, online buyers who had been referred from offline sources, such as print advertising, spent an average of 14.6 percent more per transaction than Web-referred purchasers.

Lastly, the BizRate.com findings showed that, of all referral sources, television advertising is more likely to generate a first-time online purchase than any other media--reinforcing the belief that the offline broadcast medium is a powerful driver of Web purchasing.

BizRate.com says it tracks and solicits feedback from more than 1 million online buyers per month, representing more than 15 percent of all online retail commerce. More than 900 online merchants have registered for the free BizRate.com service across 14 product categories. BizRate.com serves up a survey invitation on the receipt page to every online buyer in this merchant group.