'iPhone' Tops Google Zeitgeist List

Searches for the gadget lead the results on Google Zeitgeist 2007.

TOURE, host:

And speaking of The Most, the results the 2007 Google Zeitgeist are in. What terms, questions, concepts people worldwide have been typing into that little search bar?

ALISON STEWART, host:

Zeitgeist being one of those $5 words, meaning the spirit or characteristic of a time. So what the heck does it mean about our current culture that the iPhone is at the top of the list? Does it mean marketing works?

TOURE: I think it does.

Marissa Mayer, vice president of Search Products & User Experience at Google, is here with us.

Hi, Marissa.

Ms. MARISSA MAYER (Vice President of Search Products & User Experience, Google): Hey, how are you?

TOURE: Good.

STEWART: Good. Good morning. So I just want to be clear, so we all start at the same place. The list isn't exactly the most searched terms of the year. Tell me exactly what the Google Zeitgeist measures.

Ms. MAYER: Sure. What we release is actually the list of the fastest-rising searches from the past year. So the most searched words aren't that interesting, and they don't give you that much of the spirit of the times, the Zeitgeist feel. Because there's things like weather, music, sports. So we released the fastest risers - what was searched for most in 2007 compared to 2006? And the iPhone is a great example, of something that was invented, brand new in 2007. So a lot more people searched for it in the past year than they did previously.

TOURE: Let me list a couple of things that are on the fastest-rising list that you mentioned. Number one is the iPhone. Number two is Badoo, which you can break down for us in a second. Number three is Face Book. Number four, Daily Motion. Number five, the kids' Web site webkinz. What is Badoo, and what does this whole list tell us about a society right now?

Ms. MAYER: Sure. Well, Badoo is a social networking site. And overall, we saw on the list are that there are some gadgets and new inventions that are really popular - not surprising. There are a lot of celebrity sites on both the U.S. list and on the global lists, and Daily Motion is a good example of that. And then we also have a big rise - a continued rise in social networking. We saw these types on our 2006 list: FaceBook, MySpace, YouTube, Club Penguin, these types of sites on 2006, and we're continuing to see them in 2007. So the social networking trend is still very much on the rise.

STEWART: So people are living their lives online more?

Ms. MAYER: Yup, that's exactly what we're seeing.

STEWART: What do you see in the global searches that you don't necessarily see in the U.S. searches, and vice versa?

Ms. MAYER: Well, overall, the global searches, you'll see a lot of different influences from the other countries, other languages. And so popular social networking sites in those countries like Hi-5 and Badoo will start to rise to the top.

TOURE: Hmm. The presidential campaign list is very interesting. Number one is Ron Paul, and Giuliani's number 10, you know, but that doesn't bear out in the polling. Why do you think this is listed this way?

Ms. MAYER: Oh, I think there are a few things that were happening.

One, Ron Paul, has had a really strong Internet presence. And overall, he seen - we're seen things, like he's the largest online fundraising day. I also think that when you go through the people's searches, a lot of times they'll search what they're most curious about. So Giuliani or some of the Democratic primary candidates are a lot more covered in the media, and so people will go to Google and type in Ron Paul because they just want to know who is he? What does he stand for? What's his campaign about?

STEWART: Something I thought was interesting, as you dig deeper into the sub-categories sometimes - and this one kind of weirded me out a little bit. You search with - you give the most searched recipes, for example. So you think recipe, you know, maybe birthday cake, chocolate-chip cookies, something you might actually eat. Two of the top three recipe searches are diets. Number one is a master cleanse, number two is a Ratatouille, which I'm not sure why. And number three is the lemonade diet. And even on the list down there, there's a dog food recipe. I'm wondering if the Internet has become this place where you want to desperately improve yourself, so you start typing stuff in?

Ms. MAYER: Maybe. I think that, again, it comes down to the fact that it's really more about what people will search for. So people, a lot of times, if they want to eat chocolate-chip cookies or birthday cake, they have a recipe book that tells them how to do that, where they might not have a recipe book for the master cleanse diet, or for Ratatouille, for that matter. So you may hear about one of these new things, a lot of times they'll go to the Internet to look it up.

TOURE: Now on your how-to list, the number one question of the year was how to kiss. And in the morning meeting, Alison copped to having typed in how to kiss, here. But what do you think it says about us that so many people are looking to Google to help them learn how to kiss?

Ms. MAYER: Well, I think that says a lot of just how broad the demographics are of people who use Google. Our interpretation is that there's probably a lot of teenagers. you look at mainly, you look at all the results there, and there's a lot of it by teenagers. There's YouTube videos on how to kiss passionately, among other things, and we think that's probably who's looking for it.

STEWART: Yeah, it's interesting. A lot of them had to do with love, what is love? Sort of unanswerable questions - what is God? All these kind of things.

Ms. MAYER: Yeah, and some of that, also, again, is an artifact of that fact that a lot of people don't type in questions for the search box. So…

STEWART: What do you mean? What do they type in?

Ms. MAYER: Well, mostly, they'll type in key word searches. So, you know, they'll type in things then you like, you know, Ratatouille recipe…

STEWART: Got you.

Ms. MAYER: …as opposed to a question. So when we start looking at the types of searches, look for question words, a lot of times they are more unusual because of the smaller sample size.

STEWART: Is there anything on this list which just blew you away or blew the folks in the Google office away? Like what is that, and how did it get there?

Ms. MAYER: Let's see. Well, there were a couple of things I think that were really surprising. Actually, one of them was Hannah Montana, who on main choices is now ahead of Barbie. And on the music list is a head of the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen entered as the most popular, not even in terms of fastest rising, which is pretty, you know, a pretty solid placement.

STEWART: So it's Hannah Montana's world, and we just live in it.

Ms. MAYER: Mm-hmm.

STEWART: Vice president of Search Products & User Experience at Google, Marissa Mayer.

Hey, thanks for joining us, Marissa.

Ms. MAYER: Thank you.

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