Two years ago, WPP's Mindshare created a tool for its client Kleenex that used Google search data to see where in the United Kingdom people were searching for things related to the flu. Based on that data, Kleenex was able to shift its TV ad spend to make sure people in those areas saw its spots.
Now Mindshare has developed the tool into a full-fledged search-trend analyzer with Google. Called Search As Signal, the tool tracks what people are searching on Google, where around the world they're doing those searches and on what device and identifies trends.
"If you're Kleenex, it's the ability to understand there's a flu outbreak expected somewhere locally. If it's related to a variability in babies about to be born, it enables us to shift media spend related to Huggies. If there are nuances in particular features people are looking for in luxury cars, we can adapt the creative messaging with that particular audience," said Mindshare Chief Digital Officer Norm Johnston.
The tool groups search queries with related keywords into umbrella categories, so that searches for specific luxury car models and related terms are compiled as "luxury cars." Then it organizes those categorized queries according to location -- starting at country level with the ability to drill down to region and city -- and whether they were performed on a desktop, tablet or smartphone.
Mindshare's clients can then turn the knobs on the search-trend data in a reporting dashboard to see how the searches trended over the past year or week and look at those overall trends or zoom in to specific locations or device types. With that information, a brand can see whether and how it might want to tweak its ad buys.
For example, an auto brand would be able to see year-over-year or week-over-week spikes in searches for "luxury cars" in the United States on smartphones. If there was a big spike, the marketer could put more money towards buying ads against those mobile searches, picking up more mobile in-app banners or coming up with a mobile-friendly branded-content campaign.
Of course Google likely hopes the tool spurs demand for Google-sold ads since that's the only way the search giant will make money directly from providing the data to Mindshare.
"There is no financial deal behind this," Mr. Johnston said. While no money changed hands, the tool's use is expected to indirectly flow clients' budgets towards Google when the search-trend data indicates an advertiser may want to put more money toward search, display or YouTube. "We spend money with Google if we think it makes sense, but we're not going to sign up numbers arbitrarily," he said.