Internet statistcs over the past week reveal that Canadians are searching for answers about the economy and crime and much less about global warming despite what many politicians and pollsters tell us. And unless you live in Quebec you really don’t give a hoot about SNC Lavalin.
Quick explanation of the above: Pollsters ask you questions about what you think, what I call a “push effect” in that they are pushing for answers to pre-designed questions. Ages ago psychologist Nuelle-Newman warned that people will give answers not because of what they believe but what they believe the majority believes, usually found in news media stories. And news headlines today are more than ever about global warming. So “push effects” can be misleading (just venture back and check some political polling prognostications).
But thanks to internet software we now can measure what I call the “pull effect.” The “pull effect” is a measure of what people are independently pulling information about from the greatest of all sources the internet. This pull effect has been made simple to measure due to Google Trends. It tells us what people on their own are seeking without being prompted in a survey.
Simply put Google Trends provides a time series index of the number of queries users enter into Google in a given geographic area. Basically the results can tell you the volume of searches on a topic compared to all other search queries during a specific time frame. The results are presented as a weighted index of 0 to 100 for comparison purposes.
Google Trends is one tool used by stock market, e-commerce, medical and social science, and dozens of other fields to help guage public mindshare and awareness of issues. In research this technique is called “nowcasting” meaning you get a very good feel of what information people are pulling from the internet ocean and how they now feel about issues.
Back to the above line graph. The index of 0 to 100 shows that between September 9 to 16, 2019 the greatest weighted number of web queries were for issues about crime (55/100), then the economy (42/100), followed by climate change (18/100) and well below, questions about SNC Lavalin (14/100). Across Canada the biggest web pull for info about SNC Lavalin was in Quebec (28/100 on the index) and the lowest in western provinces. The information pull about all manner of crime was three to four times higher than for global warming in all provinces with info-web-pulls about the economy the highest in BC (37/100).
Yes, the trigger for a web search can be many things including news coverage. But it also is a very good reflection of a need to know about something based on personal experiences, immediate concerns, and a preparation for the future.
Stay tune. More next week.