Commentary

Tracking Trends Through Search Volume, Digg, URL Shortners

Search-AThe U.S. debt might not have reached $15.88 trillion if the Federal Reserve had used search data to make better forecasts to determine the depth of the problem. Erik Brynjolfsson, a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of the Boston Academic Advisory Council, did not specifically designate search as a cure for the rising deficit, but he did consider it a solution that could have foreseen the problems that occurred in the housing market between 2007 and 2009.

While Google and Microsoft have known for years that search data holds the key to forecasting sales of products and services for brands, Bloomberg points to the Bank of Israel, which uses searches to access the state of the nation's $243 billion economy by analyzing keyword counts for everything from refrigerators to wood to the Olympics.

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Search engines are not the only companies attempting to develop data to support forecasts. Twitter taps timelines that allow marketers to see what people are commenting on a story, and now Bitly has launched an experiment in private beta -- Realtime, which provides insight into what is gaining the most attention across the Web. Yes, the URL shortner and analytics tool want to provide marketers with data. The company describes the tools as an "internet attention ranking engine."

The platform goes through a series of authentications, requesting permission to create Bitly links and access link history and statistics. The tool aggregates shortened or shared links to analyze the content of each link through click distribution by keyword, URL and story level before determining which links receive the most attention.

Digg, now owned by betaworks, also officially relaunched Wednesday, with the idea of bringing real-time data to a social news feed supported by Bitly's engine technology.

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