Consumers are using Internet search for comparison shopping more frequently, even if they don't end up making a purchase online. We've known about this...

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Consumers are using Internet search for comparison shopping more frequently, even if they don’t end up making a purchase online. We’ve known about this trend for a while, but comScore shared some data suggesting it has accelerated in the weak economy.

The digital world measurer, which snapped up Seattle mobile-metrics company M:Metrics for $44.3 million and some stock options last week, said more than 80 percent of consumers think the Internet will become an increasingly important way of finding prices in the future.

“When we look at the role of search in driving consumer-pricing information, what we find is that consumers are relying more and more on the Internet to find pricing and to find the best prices,” said comScore CEO Magid Abraham. “… That’s clearly a sign of increased price sensitivity.”

Third-party referral visits to e-commerce sites (that’s when you get to Amazon.com from a search engine or ad, rather than by typing in the Web address directly) increased from 39 percent of total visits in April 2007 to 47 percent this April.

But the sales generated by those third-party referral visits only bumped up slightly from 25 percent in April 2007 to 27 percent this year.

That’s a sign that shoppers are doing a lot of back-and-forth among e-commerce sites, looking for bargains, Abraham said on a conference call with reporters and analysts.

And where did those referrals come from? Search generated about a third of them.

“It is fair to say that search is becoming more and more the portal to e-commerce. That’s where people start to go and buy something,” Abraham said.

But that’s not where they finish. Four out of five purchases made as a result of a product or price search online happen offline, he said.

What’s in a name?

PC Magazine is out with an article chronicling the worst product names in tech. Believe it or not, nothing from Microsoft made the cut.

The list, which appears in the June issue, includes:

• Tonium Pacemaker, a pocket-size DJ system.

• E-mail Stripper, freeware to clean e-mails.

• LappyMats, laptop screen protectors.

• Popuload, RSS reader for news.

• Zecurion Zlock 1.3, Security software for Vista networks.

• Emoze, freeware for push e-mail.

Enjoying lemonade

We suppose the job of a marketing promotion is to turn lemons into lemonade. Or in the case of Classmates.com, the Renton social-networking site, turn bad news into good news (maybe).

The two biggest items of bad news these days are, of course, inescapable: credit crisis and gas prices.

So Classmates aims to do something about it.

Anyone visiting the site today through Aug. 3 and who adds or updates a photo to their profile is entered into a drawing. Ten winners will get a $30,000 check toward their mortgage or housing for a year. In addition, 100 people will get $500 gas cards.

Classmates is a site that helps in setting up class reunions. We can only surmise winners in this giveaway will have a reunion with the good old days.

Cruising for tech

Ballroom dancing, shuffle board, lounging on deck with a piña colada, hitting the buffet again and again. Great cruise activities. But you’ve got to be able to show it all off for the folks back home.

To that end, Holland America Cruise Lines is bringing Microsoft “techsperts” aboard to offer digital-media workshops. It will also equip ships with computers for passengers.

Holland plans to debut the new amenity on its ms Amsterdam in Seattle on Friday and expand it to all 14 of its ships in the next year and a half.

Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or biztech@seattletimes.com.