This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 24 April, 2019
Advertisement

Are people really doing more Google searches for Pokemon Go than for porn?

Interest in the game is still high but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Image: Shutterstock/Voyagerix

WHENEVER A NEW topic explodes in popularity, so to do the searches for it.

It’s pretty safe to say that Pokémon Go has occupied this position for the past fortnight. The game has been downloaded more than 10 million times on Android alone, while searching for the term brings up close to 35 million results. That brings with it a number of comparisons.

In recent times, you may have seen statements about how Pokémon Go was searched more times than porn, or how British people searched for “what happens when we leave the EU” in their droves after Brexit, citing Google Trends as the source.

Pokemon Go Porn Source: Google Trends

Looking at the above graph, it does seem impressive, but it’s important not to mention that this isn’t a graph for search volume. What Google Trends measures is search interest.

Trends ranks search interest up to 100, but that figure is relative to searches across the globe (or specific areas if you want to hone it down).

As Google mentions in its help section, a term going down or up doesn’t mean the total number of searches are decreasing, just that its popularity is decreasing in comparison to other searches:

The numbers that appear show total searches for a term relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. A line trending downward means that a search term’s relative popularity is decreasing.

So in other words, the volume of searches for one particular term can be consistent, but its search interest ranking will rise and fall relative to the amount of attention other search terms are receiving around the world.

One of the ways it assesses this is by understanding the relative search interest in the topic compared to itself.

In a post explaining how Google Trends works and what its data means, Google’s data editor Simon Rogers uses the applications for Irish passports after Brexit as an example of how this works (emphasis our own).

Understanding the percent increase in a search topic can be a useful way to understand how much rise in interest there is in a topic. This percent increase is based on a topic’s growth in search interest over a distinct period of time compared to the previous period.
Those “spikes” are a sudden acceleration of search interest in a topic, compared to usual search volume. We know these are interesting because they are often reflective of what’s going on in the real world — there has been a rise in applications for Irish passports in the UK since the vote, for instance.

For the above example, it doesn’t mean that the term ‘Irish passports’ wasn’t searched for before this period, just that interest in them increased significantly.

So in short, while it’s good at figuring out the popularity of a topic, it doesn’t tell you anything about volume of searches. At best, just use the data from it to determine rising/falling interest and leave it at that.

Read: Snapchat has some ambitious ad ideas for your snaps >

Read: Pokémon Go is so popular, even hackers are claiming they’ve taken it down >

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

Read next:

COMMENTS (35)