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Search Intelligence: Predicting Election Outcomes With Search Insights

A part of AMP’s Search Intelligence service is monitoring and analyzing changes in monthly keyword data such as estimated impressions and average monthly search volume to uncover insights about an audience or category. If you’re familiar with our Google Search Trends Insights series, you’ll know we’re already fans of using Google Trends to work out what’s weighing most heavily on the American mind. Today, we want to apply our Search Intelligence service to tomorrow’s election to see if we can predict which candidate is going to win in three critical midwestern swing states. To make these predictions, we used Google Keyword Planner’s Estimated Impressions metric to gauge the relative popularity of Trump and Biden branded merchandise. We used this US News article to decide which swing states to analyze and we have some interesting insights to share for three of them- Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Our Thinking
In 2016, the small Chinese city of Yiwu accurately predicted the outcome of the American election by noting that the city’s many small goods factories were selling much more Trump merchandise versus Clinton merchandise. We are applying the same rationale, that demand for merchandise tracks popular support, to several swing counties located in swing states. By using Google Keyword Planner’s Estimated Impressions metric, we can speculate how popular each candidate’s merch has been in each county and thus how that county is likely to vote. While it’s true that not every voter orders a sign or hat online, we still believe the data is useful because voters who vocally support a candidate may be likely to influence their friends, family, and neighbors.

Can Search Behavior Be Predictive?

Search insights, like the ones we gathered from Google Trends and Keyword Planner, can be a good indicator of future events because it can be used to identify historic trends which are likely to continue. Businesses can use this data  to determine which types of products they should be producing and how they should be marketing those products. By analyzing search insights about a topic over time, you can discover the increased public demand for a certain product type or variety. This particular function of Search Intelligence is called search listening.

For example, we can conduct a search listening exercise on a topic like “multivitamin” and uncover the insight that “multivitamin” keywords modified by the words “iron free” are seeing an increase in popularity, or that “sugar free multivitamin” is seeing a decline.

Search Intelligence vs. Polling

Search Intelligence can deliver insights you aren’t likely to get from other methods such as focus groups or polling. This is because Search Intelligence data is self-selected. You’re analyzing a population’s Google searches instead of depending on a third party pollster to successfully make contact with a person and then successfully persuade them to answer a question honestly. Search Intelligence data comes from people who sought out the search engine and entered their burning questions into it. Search engines are judgment free environments which are accessible to a huge swath of the population, so the data we can glean from them should be valued as an important input when examining or predicting behavior.

Methodology

To determine the relative popularity of Trump and Biden in the swing counties, a list of 40 “merchandise” associated keywords was inputted to Keyword Planner and then their estimated monthly impressions for November 2020 were aggregated and divided between “Trump supporting keywords” and “Biden supporting keywords”. In total, there are 40 keywords divided into eight categories:

  1. Button
  2. Flag
  3. Hat
  4. Merchandise
  5. Shirt
  6. Sign
  7. Sticker
  8. Store

All variations of a candidate’s name and campaign are accounted for, so not only are we tracking estimated impressions for “Trump sign” and “Biden sign” but also variations such as “Joe Biden sign” and “Trump Pence sign”.

Predicted State Victors According to Merch Sold in Swing Counties
If estimated merchandise impressions were the sole metric which decided the outcome of the election in these swing counties, we would feel confident calling the following three states for either President Donald Trump or Former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Pennsylvania – Winner: Trump

pa-sorter

Our Search Intelligence analysis indicates that President Donald Trump is likely to win Pennsylvania. He appears to have maintained his 2016 support in the seven counties he won in the previous elections and appears to be ahead of Former Vice President and presidential candidate Biden in two more counties, including the critical swing county of Lackawanna. In Lackawanna county three of the top five merchandise searches belong to Trump.

lackawana

Trump also appears to be winning the Philadelphia suburb of Montgomery County. The query “Trump store” has nearly 1.6X the amount of estimated impressions as the highest Biden query, “Biden Harris sign”.

montgom

It is worth noting here that at the time this data was aggregated the Real Clear Politics average of polls was giving Biden a +3.6 advantage in the state and that the political futures market PredictIt had Biden as a clear favorite, with one share of “Yes Biden will win PA” selling for $0.63 whereas shares of “Yes Trump will win PA” were only selling for $0.39.

Michigan – Winner: Biden

unnamed (2)

President Donald Trump appears to be losing ground in Michigan. According to this Search Intelligence analysis Trump is behind Biden in three of the four counties he won last time and all other counties which went Clinton in 2016. Looking at the two swing counties Trump is losing in 2020, the advantage in merch impressions clearly belongs to Joe Biden.

unnamed (3)saginaw

Wisconsin – Winner: Trump

wisconsin

Trump merchandise is generating more impressions than Biden merchandise in four of the five Wisconsin swing counties. Trump is underperforming Biden in Kenosha county, a county he won in 2016 but to make up for this he is overperforming in Eau Claire and La Crosse counties. With Trump winning merchandise impressions in 70% of total counties and 80% of swing counties, the data shows that he is doing better in the state than either the RCP average of poll or PredictIt indicate.

At AMP Agency, we provide our clients with search insights as a data point to inform business decisions. Our passion for this leads us to explore search insights around major events such as elections as well because it’s another data point we can use to inform ourselves and understand the world around us. If you’re already practicing Social Listening or are gathering insights from polls or focus groups, Search Intelligence is another great tool to add to the mix. After all, no one lies to Google.

To learn more about Search Intelligence and our SEO services, contact us.

Related Posts

What is the Most Popular Dog Breed After COVID?

Engagements. Breakups. Weddings. Pregnancy announcements. Needless to say, a lot of major life events filled peoples’ timelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of our personal favorites to see at AMP was the increase in pet adoptions – specifically dogs. This surge in furry friends not only brought smiles to our faces, but an important question to the front of our SEO team’s minds: What is the most popular dog breed since COVID? An analysis of the most queried “adopt + dog breed” searches shows which kinds of pooches Americans gravitated towards when looking for some extra company during the doldrums of the COVID-19 quarantine, and which dogs breeds are the least popular according to organic search data. How did you determine the most popular dog breeds? To identify the most popular pups during COVID, AMP used DogTime.com’s list of All Dog Breeds to create a list of 455 dog breeds and breed-mixes. We then added the word “adopt” before each breed, meaning breed names like “Border Collie” became “Adopt Border Collie.” Once we had our final list, we entered the queries into Google Ads Keyword Planner and exported the last 48 months worth of Monthly Search Volume data about each breed, going back to April 2017. “MSV” is the rough number of queries a keyword gets in organic search. Since Google is the most popular search engine in the country by far, we use their data to paint the most accurate picture we can of the search habits of the American public. Using this data, we can visualize interest spikes for certains breeds and try to correlate them with real world events – most notably the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders when many American realized just how empty their houses could get as hours spent inside turned to days and weeks. Most popular dog breeds before and after COVID: Keyword Avg MSV adopt golden retriever 14,300 adopt french bulldog 13,815 adopt corgi 11,219 adopt pug 9,952 adopt greyhound 8,075 adopt husky 7,260 adopt dachshund 6,525 adopt poodle 6,144 adopt pomeranian 5,681 adopt chihuahua 5,546 Do you know someone with a new Golden? Evidence suggests you might. Maybe it was all the Tucker Budzyn videos we were watching during quarantine, but as can be plainly seen, the popularity of Golden Retrievers surged higher than any other breed during quarantine and continued to do so after, reaching new highs in interest in November 2020 and January 2021. Before the quarantine, the ever-Instagramable French Bulldog (or “Dutchie” as they are known colloquially) was the most sought-after dog during the majority of months throughout the last four years. You can see it indicated by the orange line on the graph. Many other breeds have been the “breed of the month” since May 2017. Corgis, Greyhounds, and Pugs have all competed for the top spot. “Adopt Greyhound” in particular experienced a major MSV increase in November of 2018, which correlates with a ban on Greyhound racing overwhelmingly passed by Florida voters in that month. Since at the time Florida contained 11 of the country’s 17 remaining dog tracks, there was a massive newsburst relating to how Americans could adopt these soon to be jobless pups.  https://lifehacker.com/how-to-adopt-a-racing-greyhound-after-the-florida-ban-1830343694  Which dog breeds are the most adopted according to organic search interest? When users are specifically looking to “adopt” a breed, these are the ten breeds they are most likely to search: Keyword Avg MSV adopt golden retriever 14,300 adopt french bulldog 13,815 adopt corgi 11,219 adopt pug 9,952 adopt greyhound 8,075 adopt husky 7,260 adopt dachshund 6,525 adopt poodle 6,144 adopt pomeranian 5,681 adopt chihuahua 5,546 According to our data, April and May 2020 were nearly tied for the most popular month ever to adopt a dog, showing that at a time when spirits were down and man needed a friend, there was none better than his (or her) best. With this in mind, humans have been doing a great job upholding their end of the bargain. Since the start of the pandemic, interest in adopting different breeds of dogs has grown by an average of 81% over pre-quarantine numbers. Which breeds benefited most from the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders? The Lagotto Romagnolo sticks out to us as the single breed with the greatest increase in sustained interest resulting from the stay-at-home orders, presumably because “I just adopted a new Lagotto Romagnolo” is so fun to say. This guy https://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/lagotto-romagnolo  Over the last 48 months, 67.85% of all searches for “adopt Lagotto Romagnolo” came during the last 13 months, March 2020 to April 2021. In March 2020, MSV was 480 searches a month; however, April showed a growth of 83% to 880. Which are the least popular dog breeds during stay-at-home orders? Pretty much all dogs got a boost during the COVID lockdowns from the Affenpinscher to the Yorkshire Terrier. That being said, some breeds did see a reduction in adoption interest since the start of quarantine, or at least didn’t experience the interest bump that other breeds saw. The least popular breeds during quarantine are shown below and they are, for the most part, unsurprisingly, NOT creatures you would want to be stuck with indoors. The honorees are semi-feral Canaan Dog- a variety of Jordanian street dog, and the presumably entirely feral Australian Dingo. Cute, but not an optimal Netflix companion. The 3.5 billion different Google searches that take place every single day are all the result of human curiosity. We trust search engines with our most intimate and our most mundane questions. While your individual search history will always hopefully remain anonymous, the aggregate search history of the public at large is not. If a query is asked often enough, by enough unique individuals, it will be assigned an average number of monthly searches. We can make use of this information by exploring the many different queries relating to a topic and analyzing how the search volume of different queries changes from month to month. By utilizing our Search Intelligence services, AMP can help you unlock a trove of valuable market intelligence data sourced directly from the Google queries of your customers. If you have an interest in analyzing search data to drive brand & business decisions or in monitoring search data on an ongoing basis for up-to-date audience insights, you may want to learn more about our SEO agency services.

AMPlifier - Social Media Industry Update - Week of June 7, 2021

Welcome to the AMPlifier – a spotlight on the latest and greatest industry updates. Whether you want to learn more about this week’s marketing trends, the newest updates to your favorite social media platforms, or simply what meme is currently taking the internet by storm, then read on. You never know what you might learn. TWITTER LAUNCHES 'TWITTER BLUE', ITS NEW, PAID SUBSCRIPTION OFFERING FOR ADD-ON TWEET FEATURES You've seen it in testing, and now it's here, with Twitter officially launching its new 'Twitter Blue' subscription service, which will enable users to pay a monthly fee to gain access to a range of additional tweet features and tools. INSTAGRAM ADDS NEW 'DROPS' PRODUCT SHOWCASE TO HELP BOOST ECOMMERCE ACTIVITY Instagram has launched a new product showcase option today called 'Drops', which will highlight the latest product launches from brands you've engaged with, or may be interested in, at the top of the Shop tab in the app. FACEBOOK OPENS UP MESSENGER API FOR INSTAGRAM, PROVIDING NEW CUSTOMER SERVICE POTENTIAL Facebook announced an expansion of its Messenger API for Instagram, which will enable businesses to feed their Instagram Direct messages into their existing CRM platform, streamlining management and response. TWITTER CONTINUES WORK ON ITS NEW SPACES TAB, ADDS EDITING OPTIONS FOR SCHEDULED SPACES As Clubhouse downloads continue to slow, Twitter continues to add new elements to boost the use of its own audio Spaces option, which will soon include a new, dedicated Spaces tab in the middle of the bottom function bar to improve Spaces discovery.     That’s a wrap on this week’s feed. Stay tuned to see what happens next.

AMPlifier - Social Media Industry Update - Week of June 1, 2021

Welcome to the AMPlifier – a spotlight on the latest and greatest industry updates. Whether you want to learn more about this week’s marketing trends, the newest updates to your favorite social media platforms, or simply what meme is currently taking the internet by storm, then read on. You never know what you might learn. NEW INSTAGRAM INSIGHTS MAKE ITS TIKTOK COMPETITOR REELS MORE APPEALING Instagram launched new Insights for Reels and Live on its Professional Dashboard, giving businesses and creators essential data about the reach of their content. These tools will help Reels catch up with its competitor TikTok, which already offers users detailed analytics. As Instagram and TikTok continue trying to keep up with one another, it can only be a good thing for influencers and small businesses that use these platforms to bolster their income. INSTAGRAM ROLLS OUT NEW OPTION TO HIDE LIKE COUNTS ON POSTS, WHICH IS ALSO COMING TO FACEBOOK It's been in testing for a while, and has even been implemented as the only display option in some regions. But this week Instagram has announced the next stage of its experiments in hiding like counts on posts, with all Facebook and Instagram users soon set to be able to choose whether or not they display like counts on each of their updates.   PINTEREST NOW FACILITATES MORE THAN 5 BILLION SEARCHES PER MONTH For context, Pinterest last, officially reported its total search volume in 2016, when it was facilitating 2 billion searches every month. That means Pinterest has increased its search volume by 150% over the last five years - which, given the pandemic, and the subsequent boost for eCommerce and online product discovery, is not overly surprising. But it does provide some additional context on Pinterest's user traffic, with the majority of these searches (if not all) for products that people are looking to buy.   That’s a wrap on this week’s feed. Stay tuned to see what happens next.