Google Sets: as much fun as Google Trends

I came across Google Sets ages ago but kind of forgot about them. I just played around with them again and love ’em. 

I like tools that do one thing, and one thing well. I like Pandora because it doesn’t complicate things – you can be up and running in seconds. I’ve seen my colleagues’ innocent little faces light up when I’ve shown them Google Trends. They just take to it so readily because it’s such an intuitive thing, and its results can sometimes be quite interesting. Take a look at my Trends page to see what I mean.

Similarly, Google Sets does just one thing with Google data. It enables you to type in up to five terms, and then returns what it considers terms that would belong to, or complement, that ‘set’. So, if you specify red, white and green as a set, it will return other colours.

This could be useful when trying to think of a set of terms at the start of a campaign. For example, a frequent problem seems to be finding people to front it. Porter Novelli recently used Angela Rippon to front a campaign highlighting Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder, which was a great success. But it’s not easy to zero in on exactly the right person, and I often see emails circulating in which people are asking for suggestions.

Enter Google Sets. Let’s assume I want to find someone for a campaign who would suit the profile of, say, Big Brother presenters – youth appeal, edgy, with a national presence. So, let’s type in Russell Brand, Dermot O’Leary and Davina McColl, and see what we get.

OK, so I might have predicted Jonathan Ross and Graham Norton, but Lenny Henry is an inspired option. He could just fill that position perfectly and – no offence to Mr. Henry – might not command the huge fees of the other candidates for doing so.

With Google Sets vanilla, that’s where it ends. takes it a step further with visualisation and a data mining function. Type in Rusell Brand here, and you get a nice graphical representation of his ‘neighbours’ according to Google Sets.

But that’s not all: you can then fetch each node’s neighbours. So, I can ‘fetch’ Dermot O’Leary’s neighbours and get another set of names. Lenny Henry appears again, but so do others such as Steve Lamacq. If I expand Lenny Henry, I get David Tennant (the current incarnation of Dr. Who). Three good candidates courtesy of Google Sets.

The only drawback with the Langreiter visualisation is that it doesn’t seem to allow multiple terms. But as a ‘seed’ for PR campaigns – in those situations where you’re banging your head against the desk trying to think up more ‘similar’ terms to the set you already have – this could be a really handy tool.

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3 thoughts on “Google Sets: as much fun as Google Trends

  1. Brendan ~
    How do you keep coming up with such valuable, yet underutilized utilities? Today I launched a 2008 “Cool Tool” series. You’re on my where to research/who to credit list.
    Happy 2008!

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