Competitive intelligence tool review: Google Correlate (part I)

Google Correlate is an online tool from Google that allows analysts to correlate datasets (e.g. a company's stock price) with search queries. At first sight, that could be useful for competitive intelligence, but in fact the functionality on offer is limited. For example, you can't check if Lufthansa's stock price correlates to searches for "volcano", or if LVMH's stock price correlates to searches for "house prices".

The main limitation is that, once you have uploaded your data set (such as historical stock prices), Google automatically decides what searches bear the highest correlation to this data - you can't ask Google to check the data against a specific search term.

And what does Google show?

That Lufthansa's stock price is most correlated to searches for "401k calculator".

Also, that Apple's stock price is strongly correlated to searches for the Mercedes CLS 550.

Neither of those seem very insightful.

Google Correlate does not require you to upload data - you can enter a search term and Google will correlate it against its database of other search trends. However, this data is also fairly useless. Here, for example, are the search terms that correlate most with "Toyota":

That data may just about be of some use to search engine optimisers, or Toyota's internal marketing people, but is of very limited use for competitive intelligence.

In fact, Google's 'promotional' explanation of Google Correlate talks of how it can help predicting the spread of flu but the Google Correlate results for flu are not very informative:

Overall, Google Correlate seems deeply disappointing, and completely useless for competitive intelligence.