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Exclusive: Predicting Super Tuesday Results Using Social Media & Search Sentiment

There’s no need to watch today’s Super Tuesday presidential election coverage, we already know who’s going to win: Barack Obama and John McCain.

How do we know this?

Marketing Pilgrim and Collective Intellect have joined forces to release “Election 2008: Using Social Media Measurement as a tool for predicting poll results” a study that looked at sentiment across social media and the search engines. Based upon our findings, we’re confidently predicting a win for Democrat Obama and Republican McCain.

You can download the free report via the Collective Intellect blog. In it, you’ll find full details of how we used blogs and search engine results to make our predictions.

For those of you interested, here’s a quick summary.

Sentiment across social media:

Podcasts’ Audience Growing, Maturing, Disappointing

I know that eMarketer’s numbers on the growth of podcasting should make us all feel warm and fuzzy, but I just can’t shake the feeling that the channel has severely under delivered.

The good news is that US audience numbers should grow from a total audience of 18.5 million in 2007 to a whopping 65 million by 2012. Also good news, the amount spent on podcast advertising should grow from $165 million to $435 million by 2012.

But, let’s take a closer look at the numbers:

If you read the small print, you’ll see that "total podcast audience" is made up of "individuals who have ever downloaded a podcast." What does that mean? Well, it certainly must include those that have downloaded a single podcast, thought to themselves "this sucks" and then went back to listening to their radio or mp3 player.

Google Experimenting with New Search Views

Google started promoting their Experimental Search product more actively last week. This week, they’re making the formal announcement of new views in Experimental Search—with a familiar-sounding rationale.

There have been a lot of recent improvements to web search, but the appearance of results themselves has been pretty constant — 10 or so web pages in a vertical list. Frequently this is exactly the right format, but for some searches you need more options and more control. That’s why we’ve created our experimental search page to let you try out some of our newest ideas.

Now, Experimental Search isn’t new news—and neither is a search interface that’s not just a list of 10 blue links. However, these particular views are purpose-specific and don’t just make the search page look nicer—they could make it easier to find and understand data.

Is Google’s Stranglehold Slipping?

Is Google’s stranglehold on the market slipping? We all had to ask as comScore and Nielsen reported their numbers for December, with Google losing search market share. Although their losses were quite small, with Nielsen reporting a loss of 1.4 percentage points and comScore reporting a loss of 0.2 percentage points for Google in search engine market share between November and December.

So, what’s going on here? The Silicon Alley Insider assures us all that Google’s in no danger (in search market share, at least, no references to their falling stock price):

A person who follows search stats more closely than we do argues that Google’s December drop is probably easy to explain: Students spend less time on their computers in December because of the holidays.

Lessons in Paid Search

I must admit that when it comes to research that talks about how big to make the “buy button” or what color to make it, I’m a complete nerd. MarketingSherpa just published a case study on how to Increase conversions. The software company Smartsheet involved says they increased the number of people who signed up for a free trial 280%. That’s enough to make me look twice.

Prospects who sign up for free trials are more likely to become paying customers. Smartsheet was getting 5%-7% of their visitors who click on a ad to sign up for a free trial. They tried multivariate testing – because as they point out, usually “your gut tells you one thing and the data tells you another,” according to Maria Colacurcio, VP Marketing, at Smartsheet.com. That increased conversions to very high levels – 12 to 14 percent. I’ve been in heated debates about the best course of action but testing works best – assuming you’re humble enough to go with the data over your ego.

Online Video Ads Unwelcome

Shocker—people don’t want to see ads. As marketers, we hear people complain all the time about advertising. It comes as no surprise that BurstMedia’s recent survey found that people don’t like ads—but it’s probably something we should think about.

First, the good news: The survey of 2600 online adults focused specifically on online video and advertising in online video. As we all know, the medium is pretty darn popular—72.1% of respondents viewed video online at least monthly.

As we all know, the primary audience for online video is young, adult males: 33.7% of males aged 18 to 24 viewed online video at least once a day (compared to 17.8% of females in the same age range and 25.4% of males over 25). Even seniors are getting into online video, with 58.6% of respondents aged 65 and over watching.

Generation Google: Not So Much

Kids these days. All crazy with the texting and the AIM and the Facebook and the Google. I just don’t understand them.

Ars Technica reports today about a recent study (PDF) by the British Library and the Joint Information Systems Committee on “Generation Google.” Born after 1993, this famed set of children, the oldest of whom will be fifteen this year, are supposedly legendary hunters and gatherers when it comes to Internet information.

As a member of “Generation Google” might IM: “w/e.” (Actually, I sincerely doubt that people reputed to be so hip to the Internet would type such a thing.) As it turns out, these kids aren’t any more adept at Googling than the average bear Internet user. Many urban legends about this group were disproven in the report. The findings (rated by the researchers as * low, ** medium and *** high confidence):