Google released another data-mining tool meant to help its advertisers spend wisely. Google Insights looks a lot like Google Trends. In fact, I wonder why both tools still exist (Google has done it before: see Sites vs. Pages).
Insights does beyond Trends, with map visualization and categories. Like Trends, you can download the data for your own number crunching.
Here’s an example of how Insights lets you dig a little deeper. Say I wanted to find out when and where users have been searching for Sam Adams, the beer (and yes, the colonial U.S. statesman):
Well, there’s another Sam Adams I haven’t mentioned. I happen to know about him because he’s the mayor-elect of my home city, Portland, Oregon. Check out how blue Oregon is in the map, and how the graph ticked up dramatically around our May 20 election.
With Insights, I can restrict to just the beer by selecting the Food and Drink category. With that done, the graph and the map make a little more sense:
One feature from Trends that is lacking in Insights is the news view. This would have been useful to someone who doesn’t know about my city’s new mayor. In Trends, the graph of search term popularity is labeled with news stories that might explain the move up or down. Google Finance also has this feature, but it’s hit and miss correlating stocks with press releases.
User searching seems more rational than investing. For example, this Google trends graph explains the surge in search for “obama” in June with a link to news.
The other Insights features make up for it. Use it to determine which locales would be most open to your product/service or which presidential candidate has more buzz in contentious Michigan.
This is normally the spot where we would beg for an API, to automate our research, or build something even cooler on top of this data. Well, we might not have to. From what I can see, the download option acts as a de facto API. The same arguments sent to the web version can be sent to a CSV (Comma Separated File) version.
But that might not be the most exciting part of Google Insights. Notice in its logo there’s a “for search” tacked onto the end of the name. Also, the URL is /insights/search instead of just /insights. That suggests we might be seeing Google Insights for Something Else down the line. Any guesses?