PR Measurement and Google Trends

May 19, 2006 at 12:15 pm 2 comments

The new “Google Trends” product is a nice complementary tool for monitoring the “noise” out there on an issue. It may prove useful for organisations that want to track general interest on a trend, or on related issues to see if there is any correlation.

What is interesting is that we can get an idea of the impact of events and policy announcements on issues – and how it spikes interest in an issue – and thus increased search results and news stories.

In the graph below, I have chartered WWF (blue line) and climate change (red line). The letters (A, B, C etc.) indicate major news stories on events and announcements. What is interesting is the peak around certain events (like D, a climate change conference) and both searches on WWF and climate change rise slightly. Also there are unexplained peaks in the search and news volume.

What can we conclude from this? Firstly, the search and news volumes on WWF and climate change do mirror each other often in terms of peaks and troughs which could be reassuring to the organisation as climate change is one of its key campaigns. Secondly, it supports the notion that events and policy announcements influence a public’s awareness and interest in an issue and may help track and explain these spikes. I wrote about this before in what I termed the “Kylie effect“. Thirdly, it shows that there are still spikes in public interest that are not traceable to news/policy announcements (look at the spike in early 2004 for both WWF and climate change). Could it be partly explained because Google Trends does not include blogs in its analysis? They could be a possible source of some peaks (i.e. a blogger writes about an issue, links to a story or WWF site inciting interest in the issue).  Steve Rubel points out this weakness in the analytical power of the new tool. KD Paine has also written about the tool and PR measurement.


Entry filed under: Evaluation tools (surveys, interviews..), PR evaluation, Web metrics.

Evaluation of events and conferences Common Myths of Evaluation

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. David Phillips  |  May 31, 2006 at 10:37 am

    Google trends is a very interesting tool. Your case study is excellent but I have a word of warning. I did a quick application and made a mistake using Google Tools which Constantin Basturea picked up and corrected for me. I have posted about it on my blog, as much as an apology as a warning. Search syntax is one of those things evaluators may want to watch out for.

  • 2. Glenn  |  June 1, 2006 at 7:43 am

    Thank you David for that advise – search syntax is certainly worth thinking about when using these type of tools. Which also makes me think about the fact that WWF was until recently the abbreviation used also by the World Wrestling Federation (but they are using WWE now). But like you, I believe the tool certainly has a use for evaluators – if we recognise its limitations.



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