Occurring every spring, March Madness is the one time during the year when the public becomes fanatical over Division I college basketball finals wherein brackets are completed, bets runs rampant, and anxious fans gather to watch the games and advancement (or not) of their teams.
It has finally come to a close with the University of Louisville Cardinals capturing the title over the University of Michigan Wolverines on Monday, April 8 in a close and heart-pounding game. But how did searches for each team and for the event as a whole change for the duration of the March Madness season?
In an initial search for "march madness", Google is continuing with their March Madness bracket straight up until the end and beyond. Results for the championship game are still clearly presented upon completing a search, alongside an abundant 419 million results.
In completing a further examination of the term, it can be easily established that the number of results decreased since the completion of the tournament. As of March 31, results were at almost 1.4 billion and monthly volume at 74,000. Interestingly so, CPC distribution was higher in Canada and Germany than it was in the United States and the trend shows a drastic upsurge in a fairly obvious month. You guessed it, March.
What About Last Year?
Back in March of 2012, results were different from those this year with many more searches at 90,500 per month and a lesser amount of results with 32.7 million. According to CBS, March Madness was much more of a spectacle this year, as there was an audience of 23.4 million viewers for the championship game. This is 12 percent greater than the number of viewers in 2012 and the most significant in almost two decades.
While searches may have been more considerable for the tournament last year, there was much more overall discussion about it this year. For the keyword "march madness 2013", there was a drastic change between February and March of this year, with searches increasing from 3,500 to 5,400 and results from 48.4 million to 784 million:
So what about the finalists? The University of Louisville and the University of Michigan went head-to-head in an entertaining and long-awaited game, but how was the public searching for them prior to the match-up?
The keyword "louisville cardinals" (which essentially could refer to any of the athletic teams representing the University) had only 6 million results in February, but increased to 24.7 million in March in response to their impressive progression in the tournament. Conversely, Michigan initially had almost 8 million results in February and increased to 29.4 million in March for the same reason.
The NCAA's March Madness Facebook page illustrates some noteworthy realities as well. The most popular city for the page is Louisville, Kentucky (go figure), and the most prevalent week was the week leading up to the championship game.
With 447,000 current Likes, the graph shows that new likes were rather stagnant and not that many new likes were obtained recently. Since the Facebook page isn't dedicated to a specific year, it is feasible that most Facebook Likes are initially acquired and then remain from year-to-year, hence why there aren't that many new Likes from week-to-week.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association, the central coordinator of March Madness, have logically been doing some promoting of their own for the tournament this year. Domain Adwords history for ncaa.com show that March is one of the only months that they concentrate on for the entirety of the year (besides employing a few ads focusing on NCAA football in November and December, which isn't quite as popular). They have been bidding on some expected keywords, including honing in on particular universities such as North Carolina, Ohio State University, Kansas and naturally, Louisville. It appears that the NCAA domain has a sizable budget for the March Madness season, as the CPC for these terms are varying with lousiville basketball the most costly at $4.11:
The total number of keywords for "ncaa.com" increased over the course of the past few months in preparation for March Madness and to keep up with searches, stimulate interest, and endorse the games. As of March 31st, they were employing almost 16,000 keywords, and go figure, that number has plummeted tremendously in the past few days as the live update confirms.
Currently ncaa.com is placing a larger focus on the NBA and the upcoming season of NCAA football (although they are still bidding on "march madness" and "north Carolina").
The budget for ncaa.com seemingly depends upon the time of the year and what events are taking place within participating sports and Universities. However, basketball is unquestionably the most-watched and admired college sport amidst the public, and it all comes down to March Madness in the end.
What? Musical March Madness?
Not to be confused with the NCAA's March Madness, MTV also has a tournament all their own that they created in honor of the March Madness season, which can be found by simply completing a Google search for "march madness".
A surprise in itself but no, it's not basketball, but rather a fan-driven (how that occurs is open to interpretation, but evidently includes some sort of a voting system) musical competition, and as the above image depicts, NCAA.com is also bidding on the keyword. Clever move, indeed. Why not take advantage of other March events with the same name, right?
Nevertheless, although the NCAA's March Madness has come to an end, MTV's has yet to conclude, so NCAA.com may still receive some benefit from the keyword. It looks like musician Ed Sheeran and Jared Leto's band Thirty Seconds to Mars will be battling it out in a musical “championship game.” It's doubtful that it will drive an audience of more than 23 million like the NCAA tournament did, though; maybe next year, MTV.
What About Twitter?
Trends on social media outlets such as Twitter also transformed during March Madness and even subsequent to the completion of last Monday's game. Twitter handles such as @MarchMadnessTV with 28,000 followers and @marchmadness with more than 128,000 followers are still advertising team/player interviews and promoting their online store after Tweeting real-time during the March Madness games.
Most amusingly, according to Mashable, Michigan's Spike Albrecht (whose Google search presents 17.9 million results) tweeted flirtatiously to 20-year-old Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton with the infamous and overly-used winky face, despite the fact that his team didn't take the title. Really, Spike? Good luck with that.
While searches, results, and PPC are reliant upon what is occurring in the world whether it be relative to music, sports, politics, current events, or otherwise, they will always change with the times just as the March Madness tournament verified. With the competition having concluded until another year of Division 1 college basketball begins, another event yet to come will soon conquer searches and PPC habits.
Pending the next search trend, some questions remain: will March Madness be even more popular next year? And most importantly, will Spike Albrecht land a Twitter-initiated date with Kate Upton?
The Original Search Marketing Event is Back!
SES Denver (Oct 16) offers an intense day of learning all the critical aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising (PPC). The mission of SES remains the same as it did from the start - to help you master being found on search engines. Early Bird rates available through Sept 12. Register today!