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Where Google, Data, Art, and Politics Collide

As a search marketer, trends and data fascinate me.  What makes data so fun is that what starts out as a boring list of numbers and data points, can be turned (with some creativity) into an engaging story.  Luckily, Google is great at building large sets of data.  With over 3 billion search queries conducted every day, and over 30 trillion URL’s crawled, Google provides a unique opportunity to find trends in vast amounts of data, and use them to understand how people feel, think, and react to events in almost real time.  Google is probably most famous for their annual Google Zeitgiest, where Google sorts through billions of searches to capture the years 10 fastest-rising global search queries (If you want to have your own fun with Google data, check out Google Trends or the Google Public Data Explorer).

Elections provide a unique opportunity for dataheads to watch the national and global reaction to the candidates’ campaigns as they unfold, and gives a glimpse inside the mind of the voting public.  In the 2012 United States General Election, Google has been doing a great job of watching and reporting on these trends.  For example, following the first Presidential Debate, Google published a minute-by-minute chart, mapping search interest levels for each candidate during the debate.

By looking at search interest over the past 12 months, Google was able to publish a map of the United States that displayed which political were the most searched in each state.

What’s great about data is that it doesn’t matter how you fall on the political spectrum personally, the data speaks for itself.  Sure the data may be skewed (Google users may not be a perfectly representative sample), but as one of the largest repositories of data, it provides a fun opportunity to dig in and find a few trends we didn’t see before!  Over the next several weeks leading up to the election, stay tuned as I summarize and analyze some of these data driven highlights and analysis.

Speaking of fun trends, during the recent Vice-Presidential Debate, it turns out that people were very interested in how old each of the contenders are, how much Joe Biden was laughing, and both how Paul Ryan looks shirtless, as well as his gym routine.