Monday, May 15, 2006

Google Trends Measures User Interest

A tip of the hat to my friend Douwe Osinga and the team for bringing to the world Google Trends, which has been the subject of much attention in the last days.

Searches signal user interest. The reason why users enter something into the Google search box is because they are interested in the topic. That's why Google makes money: If you're interested in buying something, you'll enter it into their box and they'll give you plenty of ads to click on. Ka-ching.

Google Trends will be successful for the same reason that Alexa Traffic Rankings is successful. Marketers use Alexa to get imperfect estimates of traffic data - who really uses the Alexa Toolbar, anyway? -, while Google Trends can be used to get almost-perfect estimates of interest in topics. The results are imperfect because not everyone uses the Internet, not everyone uses Google, and Trends only takes a sample of the total search data.

Some examples: A comparison of the three recent tech homeruns: Netflix, Skype, and Firefox; the popularity of sex in Pakistan; and Microsoft vs. Google vs. Yahoo.

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