I've just dug into a copy of Everybody Lies and it's great. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz evaluates the data in Google Trends to reveal uncomfortable truths about humankind.
I remember learning about Google Trends and being flabbergasted. It's amazing that this data is there - and accessible to all. We rely heavily on our own web and social analytics, and we have various media search tools, but nowhere do we really tap into this source of knowledge. As we see PR move more into a integrated direction there's less focus on what your key audience read in The Times, and more on what they are thinking, feeling, worrying about, living and breathing at any one time. Trends can be another tool to help better build this picture.
As Stephens-Davidowitz says, people are more honest with their Google search bar than they are with their partners, closest friends, doctors and psychologists. This data is 100% pure and consumer led - and not warped through a media lens. I know I'm going to start looking into using it more regularly in my day-to-day - hopefully Everybody Lies will teach me a few tips.
Stephens-Davidowitz was working on a PhD in economics at Harvard when he became obsessed with Google Trends, a tool that tracks how frequently searches are made in a given area over a given time period. He spent five years combing through this data. The idea was that you could get far better real-time information about what people are thinking by looking at Google Trends data than you could through polls or some other survey device. It turns out he was right.