28 June 2010

Brand Rooney suffers

According to Opta's statistics Wayne Rooney has lost the ball by being tackled in possession more often than any other player at this year's World Cup.

A comparison of his performance in the opening match against USA and final game with Germany reveals a quite dramatic deterioration in his passing accuracy too.

The bad news for brand Rooney is that, not only are there more eyes on him than ever before, global interest is also higher than it has been since his disappointing World Cup in 2006.

24 June 2010

Predicting Big Brother Using Search

There have been a number of blog posts about using social media buzz to predict the results of reality TV shows, but what about search?

Looking at the final series of Big Brother in the UK, we can see two names dominating searches - Rachel (actually spelled Rachael) and John James.

Participants about whom the public feel fairly neutral are unlikely to attract much interest so we can probably say with some confidence these two are either very popular or very unpopular.

Whilst interest in the former resulted in her being the first to be evicted from the house, the widespread activity around the latter suggest the smart money would be on him to win.

Search and Twitter closely entwined

You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data. Sometimes, however, the data speaks for itself...

23 June 2010

USA success over Algeria leads to search mania

With the first nine searches on Google Hot Trends (possibly 10 if the final search is Americans looking for World Cup tickets), this confirms the fact the USA is definitely very interested in soccer right now...

It would appear that the fear of supporting an unsuccessful team was all that was holding back the US.

22 June 2010

Predicting Cigar Sales Using Search

"If you can predict the future better than other people, you will soon become rich. If you can know better than other people what is happening right now, that is almost as good. After all, if no one else finds out the truth until a month after the fact, the present might as well be the future — nobody knows it." Steven D. Levitt (Author of Freakonomics)

Habanos SA, a joint venture between Cuba and Imperial Tobacco Group, registered an 8% fall in overseas sales of Cuban cigars in 2009. Consultants Bain also report an 8% decline in sales in the UK, France, Germany and Switzerland.

Highlighting the effectiveness of using search volumes as a tool for predicting the present, global searches also fell 8% in 2009.

Using Google Insights for Search forecasting tool we can predict that Cuban cigar sales will fall a further 7% in 2010.

водки поиски продолжают рост

("Vodka searches keep on rising")

The Guardian today reports that using "sensationalist adverts, steep price rises and bombastic rhetoric, Russia is pulling out all the stops to curb the national love affair with vodka that is estimated to cause 500,000 deaths a year, especially among men", adding: "A series of haunting ads broadcast round the clock on state-run television show in graphic detail the damage that the drink can do. Viewers follow a gulp of the spirit down a man's throat – vodka is blamed particularly for premature deaths among men – from where it travels to his heart, lungs, brain and liver, causing explosions akin to bomb blasts."

Unfortunately for President Dmitry Medvedev searches for 'водка' (vodka in Russian) have climbed steeply each year, with 'vodka price' (водка цена) the main driver of searches. Moscow, St Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg lead the way in search volumes.

Mikhail Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign was reported to have contributed to a rise in his unpopularity. With the presidential election just one year away, a similar effect on Medvedev's ratings could be just the tonic Vladimir Putin needs for his much-anticipated return to power.

19 June 2010

America doesn't care about soccer?

Maybe they didn't, but they do now.

If even the Cameroon v Denmark match is registering as the fourth hottest search in the US, and is trending highly on Twitter (62% US-based users), perhaps we can finally put an end to this oft-repeated claim?

Of course not everyone is interested, but that's why ESPN is trying to make you watch.

17 June 2010

William Hill promos drive World Cup searches

Amongst the high street bookmakers, William Hill appears to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the World Cup so far with UK searches up 38% in the last week.

Normally closely tracking rival Ladbrokes throughout the last year, William Hill has pulled away in the last seven days June thanks to a series of 'free bets' promoted in the mainstream press.

Ladbrokes is up just 22% in comparison.

Paddy Power, however, has seen searches surge 88% week-on-week - although from a much lower starting level. In contrast, Coral has barely registered any increase in interest.

More misery for Rob Green and ITV

The most searched for news items in the UK over the last seven days sees Robert Green and the England v USA game top the table - both up more than 5,000% on the previous week, according to Google Insights for Search.

The start of the World Cup dominated news searches, accounting for six of the top ten.

A series of negative headlines surrounding ITV's failure to broadcast the first England goal of 2010 tournament and sacking of Robbie Earle ("Will ITV deliver another World Cup cock-up?" - The Daily Mirror, 17th June) sees it place third with searches up 600% week-on-week.

Away from the World Cup, the launch of the iPhone 4, the Xbox 360 motion sensor and the final Big Brother series were all to the fore of public consciousness.

15 June 2010

FTSE set to rebound?

“It is not a case of choosing those [faces] that, to the best of one’s judgment, are really the prettiest, nor even those that average opinion genuinely thinks the prettiest. We have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be. And there are some, I believe, who practice the fourth, fifth and higher degrees.” (John Maynard Keynes, General Theory of Employment Interest and Money, 1936).

By Keynes logic, people price shares not based on what they think their fundamental value is, but rather on what they think everyone else thinks their value is.

With more than half of all Internet users beginning any session with a Google search and 76% of the UK online, Google Insights for Search arguably provides us with an opportunity to gage the behavourial habits of 20 million members of the British public.

Can we use Google Trends to see if the average person thinks the FTSE has reached a low? With the FTSE 100 down 3.6% across the last 12 months and 6.7% in the last three months, the resulting surge in searches for 'buy shares' in the UK in the last week suggest now may be as good a time as any to buy in.

09 June 2010

Less interest in 2010 World Cup for England fans

Not surprisingly interest in the World Cup within host nation South Africa has soared, with search volumes for May 2010 up almost 500% on the same period in 2006.

However, the UK has seen an 18% dip in interest; perhaps a reflection of reduced expectations amongst England fans. As former captain Terry Butcher recently commmented: "This time, there seems to be a little less hype about England, and expectations seem a little more realistic. Perhaps in 2002 and 2006 it was a bit over the top and it got to the players."

Having qualified for the first time in 32 years last time round, it is actually more of a surprise that Australian search volumes haven't dipped more.

Finally, US expectations of qualifying for the second round are high ("American fans are thinking we should advance out of the group, and I like that. I like how they’re thinking. We feel confident as well that this is a group we can get out of,” said captain Carlos Bocanegra after the draw) and this is reflected in the 42% increase in searches on 2006.

08 June 2010

Lost finale creates opening for Catholicism

The recent Lost finale contained the revelation that the "flash sideways" universe was actually purgatory.

As a result, searches for 'purgatory' (normally at a fairly consistent level) were up to almost five times normal levels (with buzz on blogs also up 700%).

Searches for the definition of the term were also up 160%, with the US, Canada and the UK the most curious.

Occupying the second and third positions on a Google search for purgatory, the Catholic Church may be amongst the more unusual beneficiaries of the Lost phenomenon.

06 June 2010

James Avery and Twitter

James Avery ('Uncle Phil' from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air) is presently the fastest rising search on Google and ranks number seven on Twitter trends.

A false rumour he had died was widely re-tweeted and spread quickly amongst users.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of this is the speed at which this meme transferred so quickly from Twitter to searches on Google.

Whilst the micro-media site is still comparatively niche with regard to active users, 50% of the public start any Internet session with a Google search.

This arguably demonstrates the fact that while Twitter is clearly widely 'read', social media is still not a trusted source of information for good reason.