Google Hot Trends, Yahoo Buzz Index: Tracking Tools For Traditional Marketing

Search Engine Journal compares Google’s recently introduced “Hot Trends” database with the Yahoo Buzz Index. (Barry Schwartz wrote extensively about Hot Trends previously.)

These tools, while fun and interesting, are also potentially important as business intelligence and data mining tools and increasingly useful to track the efficacy of offline marketing. Whatever their problems and challenges today, these tools will ultimately improve and become important to marketers as they coordinate “integrated” campaigns across traditional and Internet media.

Yahoo has very self-consciously used its Buzz Index in the past to help marketers determine the impact of a particular campaign on search volumes and thus measure its effectiveness. In this context, search becomes a response or proxy for interest and engagement.

Search, as a consumer behavior, often sits between some stimulus (e.g., a TV ad campaign) and an ultimate purchase (typically in the real world). Search helps structure and drive consideration; it’s increasingly the way people discover information that helps them make purchase decisions. Accordingly, JupiterResearch recently projected that by 2011 the Internet would influence a “trillion dollars” of offline U.S. retail spending. While that’s a mind-boggling number (and probably somewhat overblown) it is directionally exactly correct. And search is the first and most commonly used tool by consumers in shopping mode.

The search query logs are, as John Battelle has dubbed them, the “database of intentions.” And there are many actionable things that can be learned through data mining of those logs. But for purposes of this post, one intriguing possibility is using search (and the trends tools) as a way to track the efficacy of traditional marketing.

The obvious “disadvantage” that most traditional media have vs. the Internet is their perceived lack of “accountability” — there’s limited or no tracking available. In an ironic sort of way, search now can become that tool.

As these trends tools are refined and become more accurate, they will show whether and how consumers are responding to traditional media campaigns and geographically where those responses are coming from. And that information is incredibly valuable for self-evident reasons.

Postscript: Loren Baker at Search Engine Journal (again) points to a similar trends feature for Google News Google News Report USA.

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Google: Trends | Search Engines: News Search Engines | Search Engines: Word Of Mouth & Buzz Search Engines | Stats: Search Behavior | Yahoo: Other

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • http://www.stephanmiler.com eristoddle

    Google definitely stepped it up a notch from the Zietgeist days. This is really helpful information. An interesting feature would be to track it down to the story that caused the spike and then through that data, find a list of sites that catch the trend immediately and then rank sites by number based on consistently being near the impact point of a search trend. Just a thought.

  • http://www.stanleywong.org swong

    I conceived of the Yahoo! Buzz Index about 6 years ago while at Yahoo! The public version of the Yahoo! Buzz Index (http://buzz.yahoo.com/) was built for consumers to see hot trends and developments on the Web. There is also a client version of the Buzz Index for Market Researchers (http://buzz.yahoo.com/client/) which goes beyond what Google Trends does by allowing marketers to slice and dice into demographics, geographies, as well as daily archived trends.

    It is too bad that since we developed the Buzz Index it hasn’t been something that Yahoo! has promoted to advertisers or marketers.

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