A Look Back at our Global Interest Map

Brandon Carter
Brandon Carter

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Rewind back to January 2015:  As we were trying to get our heads around what happened in 2014, we produced this map of keywords that drove the most consumption of digital media around the world. Taking a macro view like this revealed some interesting patterns between major news stories that struck a chord with global audiences.

Why does that matter now? Well looking back on our map, it’s striking to see which patterns continue to affect audiences.

The prominence of the keyword “Police” in the US, for example, is unlikely to have changed in the time since our map was published (interesting to note how much that word resonated in Brazil and Australia as well). If anything we would expect that it’s become more prominent as news stories related to the excessive use of police force continue to cascade and the international consciousness rises.

But an example like this is symptomatic of a larger (but not the sole) pattern we’ve observed in content consumption: when it comes to the stories we encounter on the Internet, latent anxiety is a powerful agent in what we choose to engage with.

We’ve made this observation in smaller samples with quick studies on the Auto category and even New Years Resolutions, but seeing it blown up at this scale and analyzed over an entire year’s worth of data, it becomes more clear. Observe the frequency of “Flight” or related keywords to recent airline disasters; or even the word “College.” These are a few of the common issues that weigh on consumers’ minds.

And then there’s Apple.

No one would be surprised if the prominence and frequency of “Apple” across several countries turned out to be immutable. Anyone reading this in the queue for the Apple Watch?

While no other brand enjoys the ubiquity of “Apple” and its related products across the board, in specific categories, brands overall fare well as the biggest drivers of curiosity for consumers.

In Auto, tech darling “Tesla” competed gamely with more established brands like BMW and Ford over the course of a year. Will it have eclipsed those brands as a keyword driver (no pun intended) in a year’s time?

In Electronics, you can literally see the battle of home entertainment platforms like Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft (Xbox) and Sony play out in Game-of-Thrones-like fashion. By year’s end, who will have made the biggest gains in global domination?

On the Home & Lifestyle front, well… let’s just say some things never change and leave it at that.

So there you have it; few things inspire curiosity in digital audiences like anxiety, schadenfreude and the tech rumor mill. Just a brief retrospective for your Thursday viewing pleasure.

What patterns do you see that still ring true today? And what would you like to see the next time we refresh the Global Interest Map? Tweet us @Outbrain.

Brandon Carter

Brandon Carter

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