More than half of consumers surveyed (51.6%) said something they saw in a magazine prompted them to conduct an online search. Nearly the same number (47.7%) said reading an article led to a search. Broadcast TV, newspapers and cable TV rounded out the top five, while face-to-face communication was sixth, at 35.3%.

Leading Media that Prompt Online Searches by US Consumers, 2007 (% of respondents)

The words of others ring loud when it comes to influencing electronics purchases, the survey found. Word-of-mouth was cited by 45.1% of respondents. However, the eyes still have it here as well: 37.8% said reading an article was influential and about 29% cited either magazines or newspaper inserts. About 24% said online advertising was influential.

Leading Media that Influence Electronics Purchases by US Consumers, 2007 (% of respondents)

The BIGresearch study did not separate out whether the word-of-mouth came online (in the form of reviews, blogs, etc.) or from offline means, nor did it say whether a person read an article online or in traditional media. In the consumer electronics category, the Internet is an especially strong source of information, according to a study conducted by Fabrizio, MacLaughlin & Associates for the Lumin Collaborative: 50% of people cited it, vs. 15% who said the Internet was a source of food and beverage information.

Sources of Information about Companies or Products Used by US Adult Internet Users, by Industry, January 2007 (% of respondents)

The one-two punch of word-of-mouth and the Internet in electronics purchases was also evident in a study by Ketchum and the USC Annenberg Strategic Public Relations Center. One-third of respondents said they got their advice from family and friends, and 29.9% indicated a consumer electronics company Web site provided information.

Much has been made in the past few years about the benefits of word-of-mouth and the rapid rise of online word-of-mouth, in particular. eMarketer estimates that 66 million US adults, or about 29% of the population, regularly give advice about products or services.

US Adults Who Regularly Give Advice about Products or Services, 2006-2011 (millions and % of total adults)

Of those offering advice, 26.8 million are influential online — amounting to 17.5% of US adult Internet users.

Via eMarketer