I'll bet you sometimes get into debates with friends and co-workers about just how hot or popular a TV show, a video game, or a celebrity may be at any point in time. We all have a sense of buzz from our "anecdotal research" - what we read, who we talk to, and what we simply observe as we walk through airports, coffee shops, and soccer games.
Internet search is a viable way to settle some of those arguments. One of the more revealing ways to measure the popularity of a company, gadget, celebrity, or anything over time is by using Google Trends. If you've never stumbled upon it before, it's another fascinating way that the Google geniuses allow consumers to learn more about what's going on around them.
You simply enter a couple of different search terms, and Google Trends does the work. While it shows how popular an entity is based on consumers who have used their search service, it doesn't provide the actual numbers.
So, let's start with one of the Internet phenomenons just a few years ago - MySpace - and do a quick search comparison with Facebook:
Let's shift over to media that is even closer to home. A radio darling earlier last decade - Sirius - compared to Pandora's ascension. The search metrics don't lie:
On this chart, I included the "news data" on the far right that shows how various events - Howard Stern's signing, the Sirius XM merger, and Stern's threat to leave - impacts search and buzz. And so you know, the chart is more favorable for the satellite radio company when you enter "Sirius" rather than "Sirius XM."
The chart speaks volumes about where the cheese is moving when it comes to alternatives to traditional broadcast radio. Pandora isn't just a popular Internet radio service - it has substantial buzz and it's accomplishing this without multi-million dollar personalities or marketing.
Moving onto trends in mobile, as illustrated by Google, I typed in BlackBerry and iPhone and ended up with this result:
No contest. While BlackBerry is still the top mobile device for many in the business world, the marketing, promotion, and fun factor of the iPhone vaults it well ahead of the RIM models.
The orange line says a lot about how Android is moving up quickly on the "buzz-ometer." And while the chart doesn't take us into 2010, you can already see that Android appears as close to BlackBerry as Blackberry is as close to iPhone. This will be a trend worth following this year because there is no shortage of volatility and excitement in the mobile sector.
And then there are competitors that simply need each other in order to thrive. John Gehron once told me that it was like that with WLS and WCFL back in the Chicago Top 40 wars. When CFL went away, WLS was never able to re-energize itself like in the old days. Competition creates conflict which often creates buzz.
That's the co-dependency story on late night television, too. While Jay and Dave may be rivals because of their show format, time slot, and booking the hottest guests, you can't help but conclude that they need each other. All the way to the bank.