People conduct more than 100B searches every month, creating an unparalleled demonstration of our collective curiosity. Google's annual Year in Search report explores the people, places, and events that captured consumer interest in 2014 and here we pull out key trends and insights for marketers.
Marketing has always started with understanding people—who cares, about what, and why. There's no better source for these insights than searches. Because we rely on search across so many topics, the data it captures offers a real-time pulse of our culture, marketplace, and society. We can see news stories chronicled through search, we can see broad movements and trends reflected back at us, and we can see how certain shared moments engage our curiosity.
Taken together, they form the world's best focus group, one that's authentic, real time, and at scale. At the end of each year, Google taps into this focus group, sorting through billions of searches to capture the fastest-rising global queries. The result is A Year in Search, a revealing glimpse into what happened in culture and in the minds of Australians in 2014.
Here are some highlights from this year's report:
Aussie owns the turf
The oval ball was a major source of search during 2014, with searches for "NRL" well outnumbering those for "super rugby." However, within Australia, "AFL" reigned supreme as the most searched sport of 2014, with over 3X more searches than the "World Cup" and 11X more than the "Melbourne Cup."
From A-listers at the Oscars to monkeys in the jungle, selfies hit the mainstream in 2014, with searches increasing 8X on last year. People wanted to know how to take a "better selfie," up 6X, while the rest of us were simply asking "what is a selfie," up 3X on 2013. Interestingly, the world searched for "guy selfie tips" and "men selfie tips," but almost never for "girl selfie tips."
This year's breakout rapper
It was a massive year for our very own Iggy Azalea, with searches for the star 5X higher than in 2013. Her hometown of Mullumbimby, New South Wales, became an unlikely celebrity, with searches for "where is iggy azalea from" peaking after the release of her album.
Getting cold for a good cause
The Ice Bucket Challenge brought amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to the fore, and in 2014 we searched for the disease more than we had in the entire past decade. Worldwide, there are now over 90M search results for "ice bucket challenge," turning a little-known disorder into a global conversation.
Voting with our wallets
It was a big year for "crowdfunding" with 21X more interest across the globe than in 2013, and retro classics continued to make a comeback. Oculus Rift was sold for $2 billion whilst Coolest Cooler and Star Citizen broke all-time funding records.
Hunters and gatherers
Last year was all about kale and quinoa, but in 2014 we searched for new favorites, chia seeds and goji berries. Meanwhile, the "paleo diet" was the top-searched way to trim down.
A World Cup wonder goal
Tim Cahill is the Socceroos' all-time top scorer, but one goal will be remembered as his best. His strike against the Netherlands in Brazil caused "tim cahill volley" to spike over 23X.
See what else caught Australia's attention at A Year in Search 2014. Not only is it fun to see cultural stories play out through search data, but it's actionable. In today's constantly connected world, brands must be hyper-aware of the latest trends, conversations, and news. Using search as a constant barometer, brands can stay with—if not ahead of—the curve and find meaningful ways to connect with consumers.
To get a rich understanding of consumers throughout the year, track Google Trends. Use the data to fuel your creativity, back up your hunches, and inform media decisions. From there, you can ride the waves of interest—or create new waves altogether.