Measuring the impact of offline events with Google Insights for Search

If you don’t know Google Insights for Search yet, I recommend having a look at it right away. In spite of its name, it is not just another tool for optimizing organic or paid search. It is much more than that as it can be used for many other purposes. And it is 100% FREE!

Last year, I covered a practical example showing how it can be used as a “competitive intelligence” tool. In this post I would like to show how it can be used for measuring impacts of offline events and the kind of actions you can take. Actionable data, that is what really matters!

Caught in crisis – What Google Insights for Search can tell you?

It can happen that sometimes companies go through hard times and become the centre of attention of media and people, whether for good or bad reasons. Believe it or not, Google Insights for Search can be use to see the general impact of a crisis – if impact there is. Whenever there is something hot, what most of us do is to go on Google and search for it. So if such crisis has a significant impact, it must reflect in Google Insight for Search (or Google Trends).

How to use the tool?

  • Search for your brand, on most relevant locations
  • Look at last 7 or 30 days to get a detailed view and latest hot trends
  • See if any outstanding peaks and add context to the data! Put these in parallel with any external events.
  • Look at rising terms section ( i.e. the “hot” terms) and find out if there are any terms relating to the “hot” topic.

(Tip: The great thing with Google Insights for Search is that all data can be exported in CSV so you can build your own dashboard (with comments, annotations) or aggregate these into any existing one).

What actions can you take?

  • Communicate: Found some interesting findings? Then communicate these to key stakeholders. Don’t keep the info for you, share it. And don’t forget to provide background information, explanations & definitions so your stakeholders can easily understand the information.
  • Optimize for search: If you are providing official information through your online channels, you want people to find it. Make sure you optimize your content based on the rising terms, those used by customers. And as a short-term action, consider putting in place appropriate SEA strategy to support your SEO efforts.

Want an example?

Ok, anyone heard about the Toyota worldwide recall following the issue with the gas pedal and the Prius brakes? I am sure you did (DISCLOSURE: I am working for Toyota Motor Europe – see short intro text on top right).

search for “Toyota”, with location set to worldwide, showed the following trend line for last 30 days (at the time I started writing this post). Peaks are clearly visible and happened following key announcements or coverage in the media.

The cool thing with Google tool is that I can select specific countries and compare trends. It is not just about the US. Remember, I am working in a European context. So let’s do the same search for UK, Germany and France. Similar trends but with different amplitudes – look at the huge peak in UK around the 3rd of February.

Having a look at the rising terms, terms about the recall and the accelerator problem are all over the place. And “toyota recall” is 2nd in top searches. This clearly shows what impact the recall had on search behaviour and interest around Toyota brand.

Got it? Let’s move on to another application.

Does your latest TV ad trigger interest?

It is the dream of most marketers to do a really cool TV ad that will trigger positive interest, emotions and buzz. And yes, you may find the answer with Google Insights for Search- at least if your TV ad managed to get some interest. Again, if it is the case, people will talk about it and will search for it.

How to use the tool?

Proceed same way as in previous case. For such purpose, I even advise to do this on a regular basis.

  • Search for your brand, on most relevant locations
  • Look at last 30 days to get a detailed view and latest hot trends
  • Look at rising & hot terms section. Anything related to your TV ad? If yes then drilldown to get interest trends and compare related terms.
  • Again, add context. Do peaks coincide with start of your TV campaign? Or with any buzz in press / TV show / social media? Find it out and check with your colleagues from media department.

What actions can you take?

If people are searching for your TV ad – make it easily available, get your brand exposed! Aim for #1 spot in search results.

  • Share on social media: Post it on You Tube and any other popular video sharing platforms. And don’t forget to provide relevant description using terms reported by Google.
  • Broadcast your ad on your website: Add your TV ad on your site, create a specific webpage and get the You Tube video embedded in it.
  • Optimize for search: Optimize your TV ad page for organic search using terms you got from Google Insights for Search (and relevant variants).

Want an example?

This time I will take an example from a competitor. Recently, Peugeot, the French car manufacturer started a TV ad campaign to support the launch of its new logo. The TV ad shows the brand history – past, present & future – in a nice display of computer generated images.

Let’s have a look at the 
“Peugeot” term, in France. This first interest trend may not show anything outstanding. That is where the “rising terms” section proves to be really helpful. A quick look shows the section is topped with terms related to the latest ad. People searched for the TV ad (usually a positive sign) and also look for info about the music (seems they liked it – even better!).

Clicking on the “Peugeot pub” term (i.e. Peugeot ad) you give you a much more interesting trend graph that can be analyzed against campaign planning for example.

Finally a quick search on Google France for “peugeot pub” will return as top results a video of the TV ad from YouTube or from Dailymotion (not posted by Peugeot but who cares) – giving the info people are after and exposure to Peugeot brand!

These are two examples of how you can use Google Insights for Search for measuring impacts of offline events and taking some online actions (among others). Now, of course it requires that you regularly check results in the Google tool. Just a good habit to take and appropriate process to put in place.

What do you think about these applications? Are you also using Google Insights for Search? If so, any example you can share here? Comments are more than welcome!

Final note: I would like to take this opportunity to make following recommendations to Google (if they read my post :-)) in order to make Google Insights for Search even better:

  • Add the possibility to save queries (Still one can copy/paste query URL’s or bookmark these)
  • It should be possible to receive summary of the top & rising terms on a regular basis by emails or even the full report.
  • Add the possibility to create own annotations.

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