As Comic Con Begins, Google Declares Victory for Nerd Culture
By Tony Panaccio
Ignition Branding Consultant
If Ant-Man ran for president, he could probably beat Hillary Clinton – at least, according to Google.
While most of us use Google as a simple tool to find information we need right this minute, it’s also useful as a broad brushstroke with which to paint a picture of what interests people the most. So, as Comic Con International in San Diego kicks off today, I thought it might be fun to play some games with Google to see just how much the media is talking about this year’s annual gathering of the pop culture faithful.
The numbers were not terribly surprising, but they were incredibly entertaining.
The first thing I did was to search some general, blanket terms related to events that seemed the most relevant in the current news cycle. I needed a baseline, a control group, to use as a foundation for comparisons. To keep things simple, I started with a general Google search that would generate all Web results, without any specific categories to narrow the search. Here’s what I came up with:
- Obama – 118,000,000 results
- Russian conflict – 92,000,000 results
- Malaysian Flight – 73,800,000 results
- Immigration – 60,600,000 results
- Hillary Clinton – 21,000,000 results
- Obamacare – 18,000,000 results
That was for starters. Then I started with some nerd-related searches using the same parameters. Here’s what I found:
- Comics – 212,000,000 results
- Comic Con – 109,000,000 results
- Spider-Man – 107,000,000 results
- Batman – 103,000,000 results
- DC Comics – 82,000,000 results
- Captain America – 76,500,000 results
- Marvel – 75,000,000 results
- Superman – 50,000,000 results
- Ant-Man – 49,000,000 results
- Guardians of the Galaxy – 44,700,000 results
Okay, right off the bat, let’s get this out of the way: Ant-Man beat Hillary Clinton. He didn’t just beat Hillary Clinton – he kicked her butt in a way that Ted Cruz has wet dreams about. If those numbers were equated to votes, Ant-Man would have won the presidency with 62 percent of the vote. This is a guy whose super-power is that he can shrink down to the size of an ant, and he doesn’t even have his own comic book title. Heck, his movie isn’t even coming out until next year – but the numbers are the numbers. She just better hope Captain America doesn’t run. He’d win with 78 percent of the vote. I guess dressing in an American flag and winning World War II makes all the difference.
My first thought after the initial exercise was simply, “This is insane.” So, I dug deeper, thinking that as I got more specific, I’d reveal more sensible figures. Instead, I found myself more reason to find a room with padded walls and a jacket with no holes in the sleeves.
I did a “videos” search, because a recent study by Sandvine, a manufacturer of broadband technology, reported that YouTube accounts for roughly 24 percent of all Internet traffic. So, if that’s what surfers are doing – and Google rates Internet pages first and foremost on traffic – then a video search would reveal a more specific view than the general Web search. Here’s what I found:
- Obama – 293,000,000 results
- Malaysian Flight – 59,800,000 results
- Obamacare – 41,000,000 results
- Russian conflict – 30,900,000 results
- Immigration – 26,200,000 results
- Hillary Clinton – 7,500,000 results
And then, the nerd list:
- Spider-Man – 173,000,000 results
- Comics – 169,000,000 results
- Marvel – 152,000,000 results
- Captain America – 128,000,000 results
- Superman – 124,000,000 results
- Comic Con – 69,000,000 results
- Batman – 34,500,000 results
- DC Comics – 21,500,000 results
- Ant-Man – 17,000,000 results
- Guardians of the Galaxy – 17,000,000 results
Only the search term “Obama” beat anything from the nerd list, but everything else ranked much higher than the non-fictional current events. And, yes, Ant-Man was still beating Hillary, this time by a margin of 69 percent to 31 percent. In real terms, it would be the biggest presidential blow-out since Thomas Jefferson beat Charles Pinckney back in 1804 with 73 percent of the vote.
But, lest we forget, our media is far more celebrity-centric than news-centric. Politics always takes a backseat (for reasons passing understanding) to the latest escapades of the Kardashians. So, yeah, I went there. A flat Web search for Kardashian came up with 63,100,000 results, and a video search yielded 24,100,000 pops. So, she’d beat Ant-Man and Hillary, but not much else. Although it is sad to note that she did beat Superman, as well as Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Maybe the Man of Steel should think about doing a sex tape.
In the final (albeit non-scientific) analysis, the nerds have won. And as 130,000 of them descend on San Diego, delivering an economic impact of more $177.8 million and projected tax revenues of $2.6 million, we don’t need Google to tell us the nerds have won. They are voting with their wallets, the only real vote that counts.