Gulf Media Attention Spills Out Weekly

Since it began on April 20th, the tragic Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill has consistently made headlines each week. Whether it is an updated prognosis on the effects of the spill or another failed containment attempt, the media has reserved front-page real estate for the BP spill. On May 11th Compete wrote about the effects of the spill on the reach of target sites, but is the general public still interested?

It looks like the answer is yes.

In the above charts, a blot location represents searches performed in that state while the size represents the volume of queries, with the largest representing around 130,000 unique search queries. Looking at weekly search activity around terms related to "oil spill," we found that the country remains deeply interested in the progress of the spill. In the two weeks prior to the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, there was minimal search activity around this topic, right up through the week of April 18th.. Then, during the week of Apr 25th, when news of the spill spread, search activity began to take off as the country searched for information and answers.

At Compete, we are used to seeing this type of drastic search trend when news breaks, often followed by an equally drastic drop-off as interest wanes. In this case, national interest in the story has remained strong for over five weeks! One opportunity for BP is to capture this interest to help inform the public on their solutions to this problem.

Wait, it looks like they are."¦

Beginning the week of June 7th, BP purchased search terms on Google, Yahoo, and Bing so that their sponsored result (shown above) appears whenever a query is run on the oil spill. Their sponsored link directs searchers to a section of the BP site dedicated to their response to the spill. Their hope is clearly that if they can direct some of the interest to their site, they can begin to repair the damage that has been done to their brand image over the past month.

Next steps for BP or any company that faces such vast public scrutiny is to monitor the activity of consumers online to see what kinds of information they are looking for and where. Information on BP’s site is certainly a first step in mitigating the rumors and helping the public stay informed, but BP may also want to consider looking at the overlap of consumers who go to their site and visit social media sites. That way, BP may be able to get even more information about the spill into the hands of the consumers in the places they are most likely to be.