(cross-posted on the AdWords Agency Blog)

New product launches trigger an enormous amount of online activity, and cause consumers to shop. And we know that search volume can predict all sorts of things, from unemployment to auto trends. Putting those together, we took a look at the smartphone industry. In our Smartphone Launch Predictor study, we uncovered factors that can maximize and predict product success.
One key takeaway is that aggregate search predicts smartphone sales, with over 90% accuracy.

Here are the key findings that show how marketers can predict, and increase, smartphone sales:
  • Early buzz is a good sign: Maximize official press and marketing efforts early. Why? Pre-launch buzz, like online news stories is a top factor in propelling long-term search interest. We found that an extra 1,000 news stories in the weeks before launch will likely lead to a 9% boost in smartphone sales (compared to the situation if there are no news stories)
  • Customers are searching earlier than you might expect: A whopping 52% of purchase-related searches occur before launch. This is a prime opportunity to reach customers when they’re interested in learning more about the product, as fewer marketers are running ads at this time
  • End of the week availability rules: Some days of the week work better than others. The strongest sales figures correlate with Thursday and Fridays on-sale dates, so schedule messaging when it will generate the most interest
  • Video is a key channel: Shoppers are taking a sneak peak at products before choosing a device: video views for smartphones increased 60% from 2010 to 2011. Video views during launch week generates great results. If a smartphone accrues 1 million video views during launch week launch, it will likely sell over 1.2M units in the 12 weeks after launch
  • Ad clicks correlate closely: The higher the number of clicks on your search ads, the higher your sales - both online and in-store. How much? If a smartphone accrues 100,000 paid clicks during the 12 weeks after launch, it will likely sell over 1.3M units over the same period
  • User research cycle: Before launch, shoppers tend to compare brands to explore the smartphone landscape. More detailed searching increases during the week of launch, when searches for smartphone reviews peak. And then, after launch, people dig into the details: searches for specific smartphone features and product issues hit their high points in the weeks after launch. Tailoring ad campaigns to this cycle is a big opportunity
  • Buying one screen on many screens: As smartphone retailers know, screens are blurring and campaigns are becoming integrated. At launch week, an extra 25,000 searches for smartphones, from smartphones, predicts an increase in sales of 17%
For more insights, download the full research on smartphone sales predictors at Think With Google.

Posted by Matt Seitz, Technology team, Sr. Analytical Lead