Tuesday, February 1, 2022

How Marquette AIM Students Conduct Big Data Analysis Using Google Trends


How to Conduct Big Data Analysis Using Google Trends

By David S. Krause, Marquette University, Associate Professor of Finance

February 2022

A Powerful, Free Data Analysis Tool. Google Trends, a data analysis tool provided by Alphabet, is being used by student investment research analysts in Marquette’s Applied Investment Management (AIM) program. This is a valuable resource for discovering current trends and keep track of what people are talking about – or better yet, what they are searching. If an analysis is researching a potential product or service, Google Trends can help learn what people are most likely to prefer. The Trends tool shows what people around the world are searching on Google. Trends. For example, if a student is researching a new product offering, Google Trends can show by region if people are searching for the product.

While students can utilize Python and R programming to finetune the research process, the good thing about this tool is that anyone can use it. Google Trends is free and does not involve any complicated forms or requests. All the analyst has to do is type in a search query and click "Go" which is then followed by a time series graph. This display is associated by date with how often a certain term or phrase was searched for on the Internet using Google. The graph also has the option to change the metric and view data for any specific time period or geographic area. This makes is possible to see how many searches there have been in a specific region or country. The ability to customize the time parameters is useful to understand past trends relative to current searches.

Students know that some social media data scrapping can be misleading and inaccurate; however, Google is a reliable source for search trends. It can be used to search for investment ideas, advice from industry experts, and support for management or analysts’ projections. They also can explore the top keywords analysts on the Street are using in their reports in order to better understand their thinking. By studying what others are searching, this helps students researching learn from others and make better investment decisions.

What is trending and is demand for a firm's product meeting expectations? A Google Trend analysis allows an investment researcher to analyze trends by firm, product category, style, or region. Trends are identified by tracking search volume over time; the more search traffic generally means interest in the topic is trending up. For investing purposes, AIM research analysts who follow international stocks use it to track interest over time by region. This can help them identify investing consumer and other economic trends by region. For example, some regions may be experiencing a housing slowdown, while others may be experiencing a housing bubble. If an analyst is interested in investing in an international residential real estate or housing stock, it is important to be aware of regional trends. While there may be housing bubbles in different regions, a researcher wants to use a Google Trend analysis by country to help identify regions that are more likely to be affected by a housing bubble.

Why Google? This is as of 2021, Google is the most visited website in the world with over 70 billion visits per year. It also dominates the search engine market with more than 90% of all searches. Want more? Google processes more than 4 billion searches per day or nearly 50,000 search queries per second. Finally, most people are dependent on Google and use it on average four times per day or PCs and smartphones.

How to use Google Trends? This tool can help search for trends by category, compare how different topics compare over time, and see how much interest in a topic has increased or decreased over time. How would you understand the potential demand for electric scooters by regions?

Let's begin. The first step is search on the term “electric scooter” in Google Trends:   https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=today%205-y&q=electric%20scooter. The search was conducted worldwide for the past five-year time period.

Electric scooter (Interest over time)

Then it is possible to analyze the interest by region and country.

Electric scooter (Interest by region)

It is possible to analyze the interest by city.

Electric scooter (Interest by city)


Then it is also possible to analyze the term by related topics.

Electric scooter (Interest by related topics)

It is also possible to analyze the term by related searches.

Electric scooter (Interest by related topics)

There is the ability to go much deeper into the advanced search options for Google Trends to find key statistics, phrases, and keywords for a specific country. For example, if a researcher was interested in statistics in the United States, and specifically by state or city, they can look at more granular data. In this case, we looked at California and conducted a similar analysis as shown above.

Electric scooter (Interest by state: California)

 Conclusion. It is not only big data analysis companies that have access to large datasets. Anyone with internet access can conduct their own big data analysis with Google Trends to help make better financial decisions. Students in Marquette’s AIM program use big data analysis to help understand how population trends, purchasing power, and changing demographics might be impacting demand for a product or service. Data analysis helps them see the potential economic relationship between many variables – accessing data to understand trends based on population, income, and wealth across time and in different regions. This tool allows the ability to quickly search for trends at the worldwide or city level and is an excellent example of how FinTech tools are being employed within Marquette’s Applied Investment Management program.