Paul M. Banas on Consumer Insights, Marketing Research, and the Digital Media Landscape
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Search Engine Research 2.0

With the announcement of its innovative use of search data to track the spread of the common flu, Google Flu Trends has allowed Google to lever the enormous potential of search analysis in order to track the most viral (pardon the pun) of trends.

Search Engine Optimization 2.0 and Search Engine Marketing 2.0 as concepts have dominated digital media over the last couple of years.  And now with Google Flu Trends the concept of Search Engine Research 2.0 is truly coming into its own.

Google Flu Trends is based upon the aggregation and analysis of the search behavior of people who type the flu symptoms they are experiencing into Google in order to confirm their self diagnosis and to look up potential treatment options.

Google has found there is a close relationship between the amount of people searching on flu symptom related keywords and the amount who actually have the flu itself.

In the chart above you can see how Google Flu Trends has been well correlated with data from the Center of Disease Control on the level of flu cases being reported in the US over the past several years.

The advantage with Google Flu Trends is that the data is available a couple of weeks ahead of what the CDC compiles and announces.

Google Flu Trends is a good demonstration of the potential of the large and relatively untapped potential of levering search data for marketing research and consumer insights.

I look at what Google is doing with its Flu Trends tracker as bit of kicking the tires and taking their data for a test drive around the block.

When researchers finally take this information out on to open road and push things to the limit, that’s when we will really start realizing the full potential of search engine research.

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