Pop quiz – what do you think drove the largest exponential spike in search volume for the term “Nostradamus” in 2009?
If you answered “the Obama inauguration” you’d be right. I certainly wasn’t. Search activity for the term “apocalypse” peaked at the same time. Apparently quite a few people were expecting more than an acceptance speech!
This research was revealed in today’s session by the Yahoo! search research team. More gems: If you’d like to forecast the results of the next American Idol, look at the search behavior of 30-45 year old women from the southern U.S. Not the most surprising result, but the research team has forecast the winner all but once – and the only time they were wrong, this segment made the difference.
There are a variety of useful ways to use search data in mapping the ways that customers think. Spikes in search can be analyzed to understand drivers; medium term, shifts in search behavior by demographic groups can be tracked and analyzed; long term, cultural changes can be mapped, like the rise in searches for nutrition information over time. Outputs from this kind of analysis can be used for business intelligence, sentiment analysis, brand affinity, demographic analysis, buying intent analysis, campaign awareness and more…the list goes on.
Yahoo researchers also noted the predominance of location in searches around news stories as they happen. It seems as though people want to locate the place where events are happening in space, and they want to use search to find out – interesting when prioritizing tags and headlines during SEO, especially for news publishers.
This research will be more and more important to the way brands everywhere plan and execute their campaigns. Search activity tends to fall much farther down the purchase funnel than other forms of online engagement, and its use as part of modeling user paths on integrated campaigns is only beginning to come into its own.
At Porter Novelli, we are ramping up our use of search data as part of our strategic digital analytics practice. As a start, check out the demographics of Yahoo! searchers for SXSW, below.
More good search analytics at http://www.ysearchblog.com