If you have recently searched for “Kenya safari,” “gold jewelery,” or “insurance price comparison” lately, you are responsible. Responsible, that is, for an article published last week in the Financial Times that claims how these search terms and others like them “suggest that consumer confidence is perking up.” According to the FT, search query patterns suggest that “consumer sentiment in the UK is up 6 per cent since the beginning of the year.”
These figures are based on data from Google’s Barometer, which tracks a basket of 50 positive keywords and 50 negative keywords to gauge the health of the overall economy. Created in response to the recession, this type of trend spotting within Google search data is part of a wider effort at Google to demonstrate how patterns in search queries can not only alert marketers to emerging trends but also accurately model real-world phenomena. For example, whether you’re interested in monitoring Flu Trends, learning about today’s hot trends, or each year’s Zeitgeist, small teams of Google engineers have been able to discover deeper consumer insights using data on the web.
What does all this mean for marketers? Put simply: it will be increasingly difficult for advertisers and planners to ignore the web when making media mix decisions. Furthermore, it should lead marketers to question the interaction effects between online and offline spend relative to consumer behavior. From our perspective, the companies that get ahead in this new digital environment will be the ones that find clever ways to harness the web to work in conjunction with their existing offline campaigns but also for generating new consumer insights. Unlike other traditional forms of gathering consumer insight, online insight tools are often cheaper, based on much larger sample sizes, and are quicker to deliver results.
At Google, we have have set up an entire YouTube channel dedicated to helping small-, medium-, and large-businesses understand how this type of digital marketing and digital research can help your business speed up during the slowdown.
To access the more than 375 bite-sized videos, visit Google’s Survival of the Fastest YouTube channel, which includes contributions from Jeff Immelt (Chairman and CEO – GE), Bob Thacker (SVP, Marketing & Advertising – OfficeMax), Brent Hoberman (Co-Founder – Lastminute.com), Nassim Taleb (Author – The Black Swan), Paul Bennett (Chief Creative Officer – IDEO), and many others.
Contributed by James Elias, Head of Business Marketing – UK, Google in partnership with Branding Strategy Insider
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September 24, 2009 at 5:51 am
As a digital marketer who has probably used all of the positive searches you mention in the process of research for clients, I am skeptical about taking searches as an indicator of financial health. Window shopping (that’s all it can rightly be called) has no real relationship to actual money spent.
We deal with this kind of problem every day. How to turn interest into revenue. I can’t imagine that any other marketer would think differently. Looking at how many people spend their time gazing longingly at your products without pressing the buy button, as any indication of your future wealth is pure vanity. How many banks are going to make funds available to a business based on vanity these days?
September 25, 2009 at 5:27 am
@Aaron – the keywords are not used to measure financial health per se, rather it’s used to measure the mindset of the people. In bad economic conditions, people would not even think of looking up information on a ‘Kenya Safari’. However, as the economy improves, the outlook of people also turns positive. This is what the keyword analysis is trying to measure.
It’s probably too early on in the purchase cycle for marketers to expect a sales closure based on the keyword search. What it does suggest though, is that they might want to step up their advertising in a few months from now, since consumers have now entered the consideration phase of the brand sales life cycle. If a brand utilizes such analysis in the right way, it is more likely to be prepared to attract consumers at the right time.
December 9, 2009 at 7:25 pm
Having just read this year’s edition of Zeitgeist, I find this fascinating. Projects like Google’s flu project with the CDC are going to grow in number and completely change how we will look at what’s going on in the world. This is larger than just marketing. Think politics. Careful analysis at trending topics will give politicians insight into what issues to follow and how they should stand. I look forward to seeing more on the applications of these search trends.
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