Oil Slick Reaches the Web

With the ominous Gulf Coast oil spill steadily creeping toward Freemason Island, BP has attempted to cap the leak with a giant steel and concrete containment unit.  However, that didn’t go according to plan as the container quickly became filled with ice-like hydrate crystals and had to be temporarily removed.  As they prepare to implement their next solution, I’m curious if the 24-hour new coverage has the attention of the American people or if we’re already on to the next top story.  To find out I pulled Compete’s Daily Metrics to gauge the internet response to environmental agencies and bp.com.

Since the rig explosion on the 20th, NASA has been posting aerial views of the Gulf of Mexico. So I chose to track the daily attention that this resource was getting with Compete by using the Daily Attention and Daily Reach metrics for http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov to find out more.

The metrics indicate that there are key days when the US browsing population seems to be more enthralled with the disaster, with peaks in the Daily Attention on the 20th, 23rd, 27th, and 2nd.  It’s not surprising that the days with the most attention are correlating to specific response efforts, such as the controlled burning on the 27th, and breaking news in coordination with BP’s response and knowledge of the disaster.

Another interesting trend is the relationship to the Daily Attention and Reach of some of the government agencies with a hand in regulations and relief efforts. When comparing the epa.gov site next to noaa.gov, there is an inverse relationship, with the Environmental Protection Agency peaking during the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s valleys and vice-versa.  It seems like it’s nearly possible to overlay the daily traffic trends from the 22nd-3rd over one another like puzzle pieces.

The graph below shows that US engagement with the story is trending upward, especially with the breaking news that BP had an awareness of the severity and impact of the disaster.  If the traffic is any indication it seems like the oil spill and relief efforts stories will be of interest for some time to come.  This comes at an interesting time for BP, as they posted record earnings for the first Quarter of 2010, during the midst of this accident

Aligning response content and intensity with US interest will be key for BP. Consumer interest and the effectiveness of BP’s response can be tracked using metrics like the above and that may be one of best ways to manage ill effects of the spill on the BP brand much as they are seeking to control the flow of oil.

About Lindsey Mark:
Lindsey Mark works in Client Relations at Compete and is responsible for the strategic development of client retention and support policies for compete.com, with a focus on education and training efforts. She graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY so she's a certified technology junkie and open source advocate. When she's not thinking about marketing or training digital 007's at compete, she's doing yoga & blogging about gluten-free diet and lifestyle. Find Lindsey on Twitter as @linji, Google Plus as Lindsey Mark or connect with her via LinkedIn.