Search Trends: What Are They Saying About Malcolm Turnbull?

bald business man screaming in crisis at computer from pressure watching stocks crash

In this research piece, Phillip Pollock (pictured above) head of paid search at Resolution, gives his views on search trends around Australia’s brand new PM and his very sudden elevation to the top job on Monday night…

Twenty four hours is a long time in politics, especially in if you are Malcolm Turnbull or Tony Abbott. With the news breaking on Monday night that there would be another Prime Minister in less than three years, what do people really want to know about the incoming Malcolm Turnbull?

I have used Google trends to take a look at what and how people in Australia are searching for “Malcolm Turnbull”.

The first thing to note, is that as soon as you start to type in “Malcolm Turnbull”, the top four suggestions are about his policies, net worth, views on gay marriage and leadership challenge.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 4.10.05 PM

I’ve done my best to remove all personalisation from my previous search history so as to not influence the outcome which means these results are based on other people’s previous searches as well as the content of web pages.

Looking at indexed, interest over a 24 hour period (14th Sep 10am to 15th Sep 10am), the first spike in searches for “Malcolm Turnbull” was recorded at 16:12, at which time the former Minister for Communications door-stopped the media to address his intentions to challenge the Liberal leadership. The peak during this time period was of no surprise, at 21:56, just after the announcement of the Liberal party ballot.

Google Trends for “Malcolm Turnbull”
Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 4.11.03 PM

If we go back to the four search terms in the Google autocomplete, we can see that during the announcement of the result, people were more interested in his stance on gay marriage than his wider view on policy, then followed by his net worth.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 4.11.37 PMSearches on policies is slightly more consistent throughout the rest of the evening into the morning, giving a larger overall average number of searches compared to net worth and gay marriage.

By State

Looking at these three keywords indexed by state population over the same time period, NSW have a higher interest in net worth and gay marriage searches, but not in overall policies, which has a higher interest within Victoria.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 4.12.11 PMInterestingly, the biggest rising related search for “Tony Abbott” is “Tony Abbott Pension”, peaking at 22:20, between the ballot announcement and Malcolm Turnbull speech to the media straight after.

Google Trends for “Tony Abbott Pension”

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 4.12.52 PM


Now, I am not here to offer a political viewpoint and suggest what may happen in the next 12months to the Australian economy, gay marriage or Malcolm Turnbull’s net worth. What I am interested in is how real-time data, particularly search data, can tell you a lot about what a country thinks and actively wants more information about. Ten years in the business and I still find these insight tools really…well insightful.

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