Search engines are among the most important information technology (IT) applications and platforms on which to conduct information search. This study contributes by investigating whether and how the search engine-enabled information search is related to accounting information effectiveness. We develop the concept of information traffic to conceptualize investor IT-enabled information search activities and to explore whether the searches captured by this concept provide any insights for understanding and enhancing accounting information effectiveness. Building upon the input-process-output model (Maines and McDaniel 2000) and with a sample of 59 accounting information items, we report that information items with higher information traffic have greater ability to explain and predict firm market value (i.e., higher information effectiveness). The impact of information traffic on information effectiveness is higher for economic upturns than for economic downturns and differs among different types of information. We propose a conceptual measure that integrates both information traffic and information effectiveness to capture information relative importance and to suggest empirically an order in importance of the ten types of information we investigate. Our dynamic analysis of information traffic reveals a significant increase of investor IT-enabled information search in the post-financial-crisis period. It also shows higher search increases for accounting items that received previously scant investor attention.

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