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The Intersection of Social Search & Pop Culture

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That's what social search is really about, isn't it? The reflection of trends and conversation among related entities. Celebrity searches and following the trends in pop culture are nothing new in search of course, and the search engines have been publishing popular searches for years now. Just go to Google Zeitgeist, Yahoo Buzz, the Lycos 50, and AOL Hot Searches, and you can see what's popular in search at any given time.

File this under Tuesday's just for fun blog post, since tonight marks Week 3 of competition on American Idol , it's only appropriate to talk about how the scandal surrounding one contestant has influenced results in each search engine.

American Idol contestant Antonella Barba, of Point Pleasant, New Jersey, has earned the title of the fastest rising star of Internet controversy, as the blogoshere and popular media are focused on racy photos of her circulating around the Web.

On the Lycos 50, she's just edged out the number of searches for MySpace (YouTube, Facebook, and others are further down the list), reaching the #1 most searched for spot, and tops this week's Google Zeitgeist. On Yahoo! Buzz, she's second only to Britney Spears.

It's clear that viral factors influence the rise of these types of scandals, and in Google's search results for Antonella, Technorati tops the list with results tagged for the popstar wannabe and AI related terms. More interesting, of course, is how Google automatcially inserts the second most popular alternative query for a related search: "See results for: antonella barba pictures". Now that's relevancy for you!

Meanwhile, Yahoo's results for similar queries take advantage of the chatter on the topic over at Yahoo Answers, with the top three results integrated into the standard Y! SERPs.

Perhaps most encouraging though, is the adoption of related Pay Per Click ads for Cingular Wireless, official sponsor of American Idol. Sponsored links for the big brand pop up as well as an ad by FOX, promoting the show. That's progress. Of course, there's also several sponsored links to ringtone sellers and other sites promoting the actual pictures. That's less surprising.


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