NEW DELHI: Search engines still drive the highest level of website traffic in India, but social media is playing an increasingly important role, according to a study.

Experian Services, the marketing research firm, reported that search engines are the now origin of 17.3% of online traffic to websites in India, ahead of social networks on 14% and email on 8.4%.

Totals varied greatly by industry, with the figures for search hitting 41.1% for automotive websites and 32.5% for airlines and 29.9% for business and financial platforms.

Similarly, social networks supplied just 6.6% of activity relating to business sites, falling to 4.4% for aviation-focused properties, indicating marketers may need to adapt their strategies appropriately.

Experian also found the products receiving the highest volume of search enquiries were mobile phones, laptop computers, cameras, entertainment content, footwear, watches and apparel.

Nokia, the handset manufacturer, was the premier brand on this metric, beating Samsung, the electronics specialist and Homeshop18, the ecommerce site.

Dell, the IT group, Sony, another electronics firm, Honda, the automaker, and Hewlett-Packard, the computing company, also performed well here.

When assessing the social media space, Experian reported that Facebook received 52.5% of all visits to sites in the category in August 2011.

This constituted an increase from 27.9% year on year, extremely rapid growth in a nation the organisation has highlighted as a key target.

YouTube, Google's video-sharing service, was the second most popular site, claiming 20.3% of visits, an improvement on the 17.1% logged during the same month last year.

Orkut, a social network also owned by Google, was on 5.5%, but actually witnessed a considerable decline in interest, having posted a figure of 12.5% some 12 months ago.

Rediff, one of the country's leading portals, LinkedIn, the business-orientated social network, Twitter, the microblog, and Yahoo! Answers, an information crowdsourcing service, were among the other widely-used platforms.

Data sourced from exchange4media; additional content by Warc staff