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4/20/2009
08:10 AM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Google Says Foreclosure Searches Up 42%, Bankruptcy 53%

Noting that its search engines have become a reflection of the state of the economy, a Google exec said year-over-year searches on foreclosures are up 42%, bankruptcy 53%, and unemployment more than 100%. But the aggregate search data also reveal areas of growth and opportunity, he said.

Noting that its search engines have become a reflection of the state of the economy, a Google exec said year-over-year searches on foreclosures are up 42%, bankruptcy 53%, and unemployment more than 100%. But the aggregate search data also reveal areas of growth and opportunity, he said.Other recession-related topics showing big gains this year are education, self-help, spirituality, and also alcohol and gambling, said Google senior VP of product management Jonathan Rosenberg.

"Some of this data about traffic on specific queries is probably not surprising but our economic analysts look at things in terms of buckets and that can be more interesting," Rosenberg told financial analysts during an earnings call last week, according to the transcript from Seeking Alpha. "So we are seeing some surprises when you look at the categories of search queries."

Among the surprises, he said, is health, whose recent strong growth has made it one of the largest verticals in the U.S. Also, while the new-car industry has been hammered, searches for auto parts and auto maintenance are up significantly, Rosenberg said.

For online shopping, a global pattern is emerging based on the maturity levels of various economies: in established economies, users are looking for bargains, while in emerging markets, consumers are beginning to shift their purchasing to the web, Rosenberg said.

And in an odd aside, he also made reference to Google's controversial new location-based product: "We launched Google Latitude, which you can use to share your location with friends with a fun Google news cluster just this morning on Latitude helping catch a thief in San Francisco." Maybe that's what this economy needs: fun approaches to solving crimes!

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