Saturday, May 13, 2006

Google Trends

'To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful'. That is Google's mission statement and the volume of information made available to the world is mind boggling. Last week Google came up with a new product, this time to organize it's own information and make that universally accessible, and hopefully useful.

Yes I am talking about Google Trends. Its a very simple product and equally easy to use and understand. When you enter any query in the search field, it returns with results of the number of times that particular keyword was searched for along with the time line (beginning from 2004) and the areas it was searched in. For example, if I do a search on the keyword tsunami, this is what you will see. So we notice the abnormal spike during December 2004, because that's when the tsunami struck south east Asia and thus led to frantic searches on that word. You will notice that you can also select the particular region of which the search results you are looking for. In this case it was 'All Region', if we change that to India only, this is what we get.

There is also the option of comparing the results of two keywords. So lets take 'summer' and 'winter' as examples. The setting remains India only for the moment. The way to do so is separate the keywords by commas. As simple as that. So the results for summer and winter show the following. Again it is clear that the searches made on 'summer' and 'winter' are related to the time of the year as we see a consistent trend of highs and lows for summer during summer months and winter months respectively. Same logic applies to winter too.

This is a great way of analyzing the vast amount of data available and we can actually find out the reasons for the rise and fall for almost every keyword keeping the situation and events of that time in mind.

I am listing some examples below. Some of them are interesting to say the least, and the rest, just for fun. And I am keeping the region settings to 'India Only' for easier understanding and analysis.

1. Harry Potter

Its clear that there was a surge in searches corresponding to the release of the books/movies.

2. Nobel Prize

Again some clear trends are noticeable. Over the past years, this keyword has been searched on mostly during the months of September/October, and that's when the prizes are announced every year.

3. Kaun Banega Crorepati

As the show had gone off air and came back only in July 2005, we see the graph starting from there. There was a corresponding rise during Amitabh Bachchan's period of illness and then as it was suddenly taken off the air, the graph also dies a sudden death hanging in midair.

4. Murder

This one is a little more interesting than the rest. Although this graph is quite steady otherwise, there is a sudden spike in mid 2004. At first I couldn't think of any famous murder story at that time, and after some research I realize the Ms. Sherawat movie Murder was released then!

Now let us see some of the interesting comparisons.

5. Mangal Pandey and Rang De Basanti

I took these two Aamir Khan movies, and just as you will expect there are distinct rises in the graph right when these two were released, and then they fell sharply.

6. Anil Ambani and Mukesh Ambani

No clear reason for the graph being so much in favor of the younger brother, plain and simple charisma factor at work maybe!

7. Sonia and Sania

Again some interesting spikes. Sonia shot up during may-June 2004, the last national election time, while Sania's graphs sore during Jan 2005, when she made waves at the Australian Open that year. And since then its been Sania all the way. So its clear, being a 30 odd ranked WTA player with a nose ring is more likely to get you up there in the popularity charts than abdicating the prime minsitership and MP ship of India.

Finally let me end on a light note.

8. Banerjee, Mukherjee and Chatterjee

The long standing Battle of The Bengalis is over. The Mukherjees have won hands and legs down and I am racking my brains to come up with some famous Mukherjee who just took the fight away from us!

8a. Banerjee, Mukherjee, Chatterjee and Ganguly

And suddenly this not so well known Ganguly comes in from somewhere and steals the show. This time I think I know who is responsible! Dada, the maharaja of Bengal is enough to change statistics single handedly, or so it seems.

9. Infosys, Wipro, Satyam, TCS and CTS

With almost all my engineer friends working for one of these companies or the other, this one should put all future debates to rest. And the graphs are just too close to take a call.

10. Love and Friendship

Its amazing how friends become important only during one particular time of the year, the first Sunday of August. Don't rack your brains any further, its Friendship day, this should surely mean VICTORY for the card manufacturers!