What Are People Looking For?

Amy Winehouse in London. I think this might be from AP.I was poking through Google’s toolset and stumbled on Google Trends. Google says that their Trends (in beta) can let you “see what the world is searching for.” Among the cool features, you can compare trends on different search terms over time and by region.

So, you can see that U.S. users had a spike in searches for Amy Winehouse, and that Amy tracks higher than Britney. Across the pond, Brits were generally less interested in learning about Amy, and more in Britney.

You can also track the relative popularity of Kanye West and 50 Cent. Fitty famously promised to retire from music if Kanye’s CD outsold his on the day they were both released. 50 had more searches than Kanye through most of 2007–until the release of the CDs. Kanye queries killed him on that day, and has been a bit ahead ever since.

So, what about the Democratic contenders?

Google search trend data shows Clinton queries ahead of Obama queries for much of 2007Well, Hillary Clinton (red line above) was ahead of Barack Obama (blue line) during the long pre-primary season. Interest in both candidates picked up at the end of December, going into the Iowa caucuses. Since then, people have been looking for information about Obama more than info about Clinton–and on some days by much more.

Even more interesting (at least to me) is the regional trending.

Line graphs showing Obama ahead in Iowa, Clinton up in N.H. and tie in S.C.By December 2007, Obama (blue) was ahead of Clinton in Iowa, which he won. Clinton (red) was more interesting to people in New Hampshire, and she won there. And South Carolina queries at the end of the year were pretty even for our intrepid candidates. [Obama ended up winning S.C. handily at the end of January.]

Anybody picking up a trend here? It looks like people might be looking for stuff that they are interested in. This can be troubling for the Clinton campaign if you take a look at what people are looking for now in Texas and Ohio.

It's crazy--Obama queries are way up from Clinton in both Texas and Ohio.The Google Trend for the past 30 days sees a large gap between searches for Obama (still the Blue Line) and Clinton (Red Line) in these two key upcoming primary states. Tuesday will tell, but as far as people looking for candidate information, it appears that they are more likely to be seeking information about Obama. Or maybe how to contribute to his campaign. Or how to volunteer. Or who knows. Maybe they already know enough about Clinton.

This Google Trends stuff is so cool. And despite the fact it skews to Internet users–more educated, more white, more wealthy– it’s now the Doc’s zeitgeist poll.

One thought on “What Are People Looking For?

  1. Google Trends is cool, though I think it’s been around for awhile now. It’s interesting how they release the relative data frequencies but they keep the absolute numbers secret (for free at least). It’s really incredible when you think about how much data Google is in control of.

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