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Google Insights for Search: Popular African footballers

June 25, 2012  »  Statistics & UncategorizedNo Comment

A few months ago, we noticed footballer Lionel Messi’s name showing up as one of the four most popular Google image searches in Angola, Mauritania, and Niger. We wondered how search interest for prominent footballers stacked up against other terms, most notably the head of state. After analyzing Google Insights for Search data for a variety of nations, we’ve come to the conclusion that in many African nations, relative web search interest for a head of state exceeds that of a top footballer. However, image searches often prove more popular for footballers than presidents. Elections and major soccer victories understandably lead to a surge of interest.

Below are relative search indices over the past 12 months for select nations with an especially popular footballer. Note: Search volume from Mali was too low to gauge Frederic Kanoute’s search index.

Cote d’Ivoire: Didier Drogba, Yaya & Kolo Toure vs. Laurent Gbagbo & Alassane Ouattara

Drogba’s recent headlines have brought a spike in images searches from Ivorians. Notice though, how former President Gbago outranked other names in December 2011 amid trial at The Hague.

Cameroon: Samuel Eto’o vs. Paul Biya

The sole case we found where Web search trends are nearly identical. Paul Biya certainly had a surge of interest around election time last October, but searches for Eto’o have remained popular as well.

Ghana: Michael Essien vs. John Atta-Mills

Very similar trends, with the president winning out slightly over the period.

Nigeria: John Mikel Obi vs. Goodluck Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan made headlines this past January over Nigeria’s fuel subsidy crisis. Other than that, image searches for Obi have remained relatively as common as those for the President.

Togo: Emmanuel Adebayor vs. Faure Gnassingbé

It’s all football here. Notable is how large a share of searches are for Adebayor.

And, finally, trends from the nations where ‘Messi’ is among the top searched image terms, period.

Angola: Messi vs. José Eduardo dos Santos

Mauritania: Messi vs. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz

Niger: Messi vs. Mahamadou Issoufou