Can the winner of X Factor be predicted on search trends?

I’ve been reading Bill Tancer’s brilliant book Click over the past few weeks. It’s one of those books you won’t pick up if you assume you understand how the web works. If you don’t make that assumption, and you do pick it up, it’s fascinating.

Bill is general manager of global research at Hitwise and the basic premise of the book is that you can learn a heck of a lot about people by analysing what is being searched for. I suppose one way of interpreting the book is that to understand the internet, you need to subscribe to Hitwise.

But for those of us who don’t have instant access to Hitwise purely to satisfy our own curiosity, then there’s always Google Insights for Search. In Click, Bill argues to possible to work out that Mark Ramprakash would win the 2006 run of Strictly Come Dancing several weeks before the final took place. Why? Because the volume of search terms for Ramprakash was off the scale.

So, just for fun, having played with Insight for half an hour or so, is it possible to predict who will win this year’s run of X Factor? The programme is down to the final 12 contestants and the live finals start this weekend.

While a lot will happen between now and the inevitable number one at Christmas for the winner, it’s a safe bet that there are already early favourites out there – so what better way to find out than by using search?

Because Insights only lets you search for up to five at a time,  I’ve run four searches – one for each category (boys, girls, groups, over 25s). I’ve also included the term “x factor” in each search term, to remove any possibility of the search relating to something else.

Each search was based on UK traffic only (as overseas traffic is unlikely to vote, I reckoned) and is based on the last seven days – so back to last week’s final selection.

So first up, the groups:


From which we learn that Kandy Rain are the most popular at the moment.

Over 25s


For this one, I added the search term “Jamie Afro” into Jamie Archer’s as that is what most people seem to know him as – but he still comes behind Danyl Johnson, the music teacher.



I added a fourth search, of just “Rachel X Factor” as “Rachel Adedeji X Factor” appeared to do very little  – but the winner was still clear.



Lloyd, the lad only just old enough to be on show, is a clear winner here.
So, in true talent show style, the winners of these “heats” go into the final:
Given the fact we can’t guarantee people know how to spell the names of the stars correctly, I inserted one alternative spelling into each one. It didn’t change the overall result, but did make it a bit closer.
So, following current search trends as listed by Google in the UK, the winner will be Kandy Rain, a group. But given the description most used to describe the girls on MTV is: “Four ex-strippers who hope to be the UK’s answer to Pussycat Dolls with their similar PVC outfits” maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise at all!

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