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Can Google Trends Predict the Winner?

For those of you who don’t know, Google Trends is a free service by Google that lets you determine the trend of different keyword searches over time, and then compare them together. Today I’m going to show you that it’s often possible to determine who will win between competitors using just Google Trends. By the way, did you know that Google can predict the flu activity up to two weeks faster than the current medical system? Yes, it can be that powerful!

LCD TV versus Plasma TV

Plasma Versus LCD TV

As you can clearly see, the number of Google searches for Plasma TV’s is on a clear decline whereas the number of Google searches for LCD TV’s is climbing. Based on the current trend, I predict it’s only a matter of time before Plasma TV’s are obsolete.

Another interesting thing to note about this graph is the spikes near the end of the year. This is inline with the increases in shopping for Black Friday and Xmas.

Facebook versus MySpace

Facebook versus MySpace

I remember how not very long ago everyone was wondering which would be bigger. Looking at the Google Trend it’s pretty clear who’s going to be bigger. FaceBook is continuing to grow while MySpace is declining. Although we can’t know for sure what the traffic numbers are, I’m willing to bet Facebook is ahead and gaining just like the Google Trends indicate.

When I wrote my ebook How to Generate Traffic to Your Website, I only had the Google Trends up to early 2008 (where they prettty much overlap and there’s not yet a clear winner), and even then I stated: “As you can see MySpace looks like it has already peaked, and may even be on the decline whereas Facebook has only recently peaked [in retrospect what looked like peak was only a temporary slowdown]. Please note however that these graphs don’t indicate real traffic but rather search query trends over time. If I was going to invest some time and/or money on one of these social networking sites, I would choose Facebook over MySpace based on these trend graphs.” A perfect example from a year and a half ago on how you can use Google Trends to better predict the future.

Netflix versus BlockBuster

Netflix versus BlockBuster

Based on the above Google Trends, it’s again pretty easy to conclude that Netflix is going to win over rental movies (I use Blockbuster since they’re the biggest brand name). Already Netflix has overtaken BlockBuster, and Netflix has an upward trend whereas BlockBuster has a downward trend. So unless things change, this lead should only widden.

Tivo versus PVR versus On-Demand

Tivo versus PVR

Based on these Google Trends, it appears that On Demand is growing faster than both Tivo and PVR’s. Tivo is definitely shrinking, and I expect it will eventually go away. PVR’s seem to be pretty static, which means they’ll probably stay with us for a long time. But On Demand is definitely a growing trend. If I was a betting man in the entertainment business, I’d put my money on On Demand as the way of the future.

Google Maps versus Mapquest

Google Maps versus Mapquest

I remember how exciting Mapquest was when the internet was new. It was the first big website to offer you the ability to map direction from where you where to were you wanted to go. Since then things have significantly changed. Google Maps has come onto the scene. And have they ever. They’ve blasted right past Mapquest. I can’t imagine this trend reversing, especially not when you consider what all Google Maps has to offers over Mapquest.

Norton versus McAfee versus Nod32 versus Kaspersky

Antivirus

Years ago it used to really be a battle between Norton and McAfee. Today things have changed a lot. I can tell you from personal experience, I’ve used both McAfee and Norton and I dislike them both. They’re so performance hungry that they really hamper your machine. These days I use Nod32 and I have only good things to say about it. The performance of Nod32 is amazing. What a difference!

In any case, you can clearly see that the lead Norton had is now gone. Not only that, McAfee is also losing steam. What’s interesting though is that it looks like the old guard is going to be replaced. I picked Nod32 because I like it a lot, and Kaspersky because I’ve heard good things about it, but there are many others. Needless to say, these two are growing while the while Norton and McAfee are shrinking. I predict it’s only a matter of time. If it wasn’t for stores like Best Buy stocking Norton and McAfee on their shelves, that and corporations staying with what they’ve always bought in the past because change is hard, the numbers would be even more drastic. I predict it’s only a matter of time.

Network Solutions versus GoDaddy

Network Solutions versus GoDaddy

Back in the early days of the internet there were only 3 domain registrars, one of them being Network Solutions. Eventually this changed, and now we have more registrars than I can count. But what’s interesting here is that we can see that just because Network Solutions had an early lead, it doesn’t mean they will keep it. Remember they were one of only three registrars! What happened? They kept charging very high prices for domains hoping to bank on their brand recognition.

Along came GoDaddy with cheap domain registrations. Today we can clearly see that Network Solutions is going in a downward trend while GoDaddy is going upwards. It’s easy to see this lead growing with time.

SSD versus HDD

SSD versus HDD

For those who aren’t as familiar with these abbreviations, SSD represents Solid States Drives and HDD represents Hard Disk Drive. HDD’s are currently the standard disks you find in computers. It’s most likely what you have in your computer. SSD’s are the new storage technology. They destroy HDD in terms of performance. They aren’t just a bit faster, they are multiple times faster. Not only that, they use a fraction of the energy, can take more physical abuse, have no moving parts, make no noise, and so on. Basically they trump HDD’s. The downside is that they’re still expensive, several times more than a standard HDD and they only come in smaller sizes. It’s more than enough space to run a normal computer, but I wouldn’t recommend storing larger media files on it just yet, it’s still too expensive.

In any case, you can see that HDD searches are going down while SSD searches are increasing. I predict it’s only a matter of time before SSD’s win out over HDD’s.

Conclusion

In many instances it’s possible to predict a clear winner by using only Google Trends. However you still need to use your brain, it’s not always correct. When I ran Blue Ray versus HD DVD, HD DVD was winning at the time, and it appeared it was going to win. I remember reading all kinds of articles and posts on how HD DVD was going to win. But then suddenly Sony made some deals and the majority of the studios made commitments to Sony’s Blue Ray technology. Within a month, it was all over. Blue Ray beat out HD DVD. However if it wasn’t for a direct intervention by Sony, I suspect things would be very different now. Having already gone through and lost the Beta versus VHS battle years ago, Sony wasn’t about to replicate it’s mistake one more time with Blue Ray versus HD DVD.

Overall though, you can, and should, definitely take advantage of leveraging Google Trends to predict the future. It’s the most powerful tool I know for predicting the future.



 
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Comments:

  •     FollowSteph.com – How Accurate Were My 2009 Google Trend Predictions?
    · November 4th, 2010  · 10:48 pm  · Permalink

    […] the time and revisit my predictions from June 8, 2009 (about a year and a half ago) when I wrote Can Google Trends Predict the Winner? In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes it can. It’s that […]

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