Google has developed a formula to predict hot online search topics in what promises to be a boon for businesses eager to target ads that accompany Internet search results.
Engineers in Google's lab in Israel came up with a forecasting model while studying whether past and current search patterns hold reliable clues to what people will seek online in months to come.
The findings resulted in a new forecasting feature added this week to Insights for Search at Google.
"We see that many search trends are predictable," Yossi Matias, Niv Efron, and Yair Shimshoni of Google Labs in Israel wrote in a message at the California Internet titan's website.
"We characterize the predictability of a Trends series based on its historical performance."
Google Trends is a free online service that shows what search subjects are gaining or sinking in popularity. Insights for Search uses the same data but is geared for advertisers or researchers who want to dig deeper.
More than half of the most popular search queries at Google are predictable as far as a year ahead, with a margin of error of about 12 percent, according to the Israel lab engineers.
Categories such as health, travel, and food and drink are particularly predictable, while searches regarding entertainment and social networks have proven harder to foresee, the team said.
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