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I currently work as the Director of Strategic Planning and Research at Richter7, the most creative and decorated agency in Salt Lake City, Utah.


May 21, 2009

The truth is in the details

Yesterday I blogged about how Google search data indicated that Adam Lambert would be the runaway favorite to win American Idol. After all, he had an almost 4:1 margin over Kris Allen in search activity. So you can guess my stunned amazement when I learned Allen had pulled the upset.

So where did the numbers go wrong. I still believe that search data can be used to predict outcomes like this, but the analysis has to go a little deeper than simply looking at whose name is getting search fore most often. The truth was in the details.

I went back and looked at the data last night to figure out how this played out. I began by looking at both "Kris Allen" and "Adam Lambert" related search terms from the past 30 days, and discovered that "Kris Allen" related terms outpaced "Adam Lambert" related terms by almost a 2:1 ratio. A further indication of the momentum Allen had established in the closing days of the competition, breakout terms, or terms rising faster than Google can calculate the rate of increase, showed Kris had an almost 3:1 edge.

Google Insights Top 10 Rising Searches - Past 30 days

Analyzing the data from a number of different angles showed the same story. Over the final week of the competition, Allen's lead of the top rising searches grew to nearly 3 to 1, and search terms rising at a rate greater than 250% showed Allen with a slightly better than 2:1 lead.

Google Insights Top 10 Rising Searches - Past 7 days

A further indication of Allen's gaining momentum and Lambert's popularity erosion is seen when looking at the data on a per name basis. Looking at just "Kris Allen" related terms over both the past 30 and past 7 days, only searches related to his name and American Idol are found among the Top 10 Rising Searches.

Search terms related to "Kris Allen" - Past 30 days

Search terms related to "Kris Allen" - Past 7 days
When looking at Lambert's rising searches, it become evident that Kris Allen was invading those searches and instead showing Allen as the true dominant force.

Search terms related to "Adam Lambert" - Past 30 days

Search terms related to "Adam Lambert" - Past 7 days

The lesson from this? You must take a deeper look to attempt to discern or characterize the nature of the interest rather than looking at the sheer volume alone.

Leia Mais…
May 20, 2009

Can Google predict who will win American Idol?

The answer is, yes!

Now I don't follow American Idol. I have only watched one entire episode the past eight years. I didn't even know who the contestants were this season, but did know (thanks to Twitter) that tonight was the season finale. And while most everyone I've heard this morning thinks Adam Lambert will be this year’s champ, I think he will win for an entirely different reason.


I have never heard him or the other finalist, Kris Allen, sing, but I am tempted to run over to Wendover to put some money down on tonight's outcome. Online chatter and search volume correlates very closely with actual voting. It happened in the presidential election and its happening with American Idol. By looking at Google search trends (volume, demographic and geographic) for the past three seasons, patterns in the data appear that can predict the eventual winner of American Idol.

For example, in 2006, Taylor Hicks dominated much of the search volume from early March through the finale. Eventual runner-up Katharine McPhee passed Hicks for a brief window in late April and early May, but Hicks surpassed her and rode the momentum through the finale. In 2007, an analysis of search data revealed that Jordan Sparks received more related searches than Blake Lewis. Last year's competition saw the two finalists, David Cook and David Archuleta, trade jabs as the leader in search volume. But larger states, including Archuelta's birth state of Florida, leaned in Cook's favor and carried him to the title.

This year Lambert is crushing Allen in searches, currently holding an almost 4:1 margin over him. And unlike previous seasons, where the leaders have traded top search position week to week down the stretch, Lambert has held a sizable lead for the past month. The only state leaning towards Allen at this point in his home state of Alabama. Even the states which had strong support for Danny Gokey, the contestant voted off last week, show Lambert running away. For a marketing geek like me, the implications of utilizing search data to predict consumer and market trends is enormous.

Search volume utilizing Google Insights. Lambert Allen

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 American Idol winner, Adam Lambert.

Leia Mais…
May 18, 2009

Help! Where do I click?

If I didn't have ADHD before visiting ESPN.com this afternoon, I sure do now. User Interface experts and web designers said you couldn't cram this much graphic into this small a space, but ESPN has proved them all wrong!

Sometimes it takes one quick glance at something like this to remember that less often really is more.

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