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Google unveils research on executive Internet use

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Chicago—Large and small-business owners use search and social media more than you might expect, according to new research unveiled by Sam Sebastian, director-local and b to b markets at Google, during his keynote Thursday at BMA’s “Unlearn” conference here.

Seventy-three percent of C-suite executives are using the Internet daily, Sebastian said, referring to new research Google conducted with Forbes of 500 executives at companies with sales of $1 billion or higher.

“They’re not delegating,” he said. “They prefer to do a lot of this stuff on their own.” Among the findings from the research, which will be formally released in the coming weeks include: 64% of C-level execs conduct six or more searches per day to locate business information.

Interestingly, 1 in 5 said they preferred to watch video rather than read text. Focusing on the impact of video, Sebastian said there are “1.5 million business searches daily on YouTube,” making it the second-most-visited destination for business searches, behind Google.

Along with video, mobile search will see an “explosion,” Sebastian said, as devices such as Apple’s iPhone become more pervasive and U.S. cellular networks upgrade to the faster wireless standards common elsewhere in the world. Mobile devices are already impacting search volume, which is up 60% in the past two years, he said.

Sebastian also discussed an SMB “policy influencer” study done with Chicago-based agency Slack Barshinger that showed SMB owners are heavily involved with social media, with about half using blogs, wikis, Twitter and other social media channels for business purposes.

“I figured a lot of folks [in this segment] were online ... but the percentage was surprising,” he said. A majority of execs under 40 use Web 2.0 tools, according to the research, Sebastian said, adding: “This has a huge impact on advertising programs, and content and how you use social media.”

Finally, he discussed an A/B test conducted with Enquiro on behalf of General Electric Co. That study quantified the positive banding effect of unclicked listings—on brand identity and recall—from a search results page. Sebastian added that, while both paid and organic search listings showed a positive effect, a paid listing had the obvious advantage of letting the marketer control the messaging by controlling the copy seen by the searcher.

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