- September 5, 2012

Search: Which Country Takes the Gold Medal?

The London 2012 Summer Olympics showcased the world’s first social games along with the explosion of multi-platform content consumption to devour all aspects of competition. And we know that when it comes to search activity around buzzworthy Olympians, swimmer Michael Phelps was the most searched-for U.S. athlete, while heptathlon gold medalist Jessica Ennis topped the list for British athletes.

Even though the Olympic flame is on its way to the next host city, there’s a global search competition that continues well beyond the closing ceremonies and final medal count. People’s online search behavior isn’t quite as gut-wrenching with the drama (and the glory) of the Olympics itself, but it does parallel the fact that everyone participates, every country has its own story to tell, and every country’s story is different.

Search Continues Worldwide Growth
Evaluating search growth centers around two primary metrics:

• Number of Searchers
• Total Searches Conducted

From these numbers, we can then derive a variety of consumption metrics such as Searches per Searcher and Searcher Conversion. For this analysis, I used Comscore qSearch, which is based on a two million desktop/PC based searcher panel covering more than 170 countries.

In June 2012, 1.47 billion searchers conducted 173 billion searches (with year-over-year increases of 10% and 12%, respectively), making for 117 searches for every searcher on the planet. If you were to add in the number of searches now performed on mobile devices and tablets, the numbers would be even more staggering. Social Media may get most of the news clippings lately, but search activity is still one of the most popular activities on the Internet.

Search is a relatively mature online activity that will not continue to experience double digit growth in new searchers forever, so the ongoing growth opportunity would appear to be in the number of searches each person conducts. But 117 searches per searcher worldwide already seems like a lot, doesn’t it? However, when you break this number down by different regions and countries, you begin to get a better sense of where the search growth will come from in succeeding years.

Search Utilization by Region

While Europe and Asia Pac have the highest number of searchers and generate the highest overall volume of search queries, the search utilization by region shows a different story with Latin America taking the gold:

• Latin America: 162
• Europe: 135
• North America: 129
• Asia Pacific: 97
• Middle East-Africa: 92
Which Country Takes Search Gold in 2012?

Latin America’s 162 searches per searcher is nearly 40% greater than the worldwide average. Within Latin America, Peru is a surprising leader with 209 searches per searcher. Even Brazil, with the lowest search intensity in the region still saw an average of 145 searchers per searcher.

On the other hand, Asia Pacific is 20% below the worldwide average. Japan leads the region with 147 searches per searcher, but China – still very much a developing market in this regard – drags down the regional average with just 68 searches per searcher.

But the heaviest search market of all…

Turkey -- with 217 searches per searcher.

Just as every Olympic country has areas of strength and weakness, every region and country around the world differs in their use of search. The reasons vary greatly -- from differences in culture to levels of broadband internet penetration to device preference --but each country will continue to reach higher as it pursues search gold. While Turkey walks away with the gold medal this year, there’s no telling what the global search market will look like four years from now but one thing is clear: it’s anyone’s medal to take.

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