Off to College: What Students Are Looking For

exelate off to college

Since many colleges started class and orientation this week, we took a look at what students are looking for in a school. In terms of most researched universities, NYU wins the day, having the most interest on a major online site devoted to helping students find a university. Running behind NYU came USC and BU. And on to college majors, some top interests of prospective students were very interesting. Kinesiology surprised me as a top pick – perhaps a favorite among student athletes. Other interesting majors included Marine Biology (I hate to tell you that you’re more likely to study worms than dolphins), Forensic Psychology (CSI and Bones have invaded our psyche) and Petroleum Engineering (get rich betting on the fracking boom!).

Slightly disturbingly, but not at all shocking, Hottest Girls was the number one interest of online browsers when selecting universities to apply to. It wasn’t close, either. Looking at school rankings by Hottest Girls was almost twice as popular as the second most popular ranking, Admission Difficulty, itself slightly worrisome. But don’t worry, America – behind these two, in order: Best Overall Experience, Best Party Scene, and Greek Life. Academics still came in with a strong 6th place finish, just ahead of Hottest Guys. OK, you can be a little concerned.

With these rankings in mind, and since none of our schools made the Top Ten, I would like to personally recommend my home city of San Diego. Consistently ranked in the top 3 in every list of the country’s most attractive people, some excellent schools, perfect weather, beautiful beaches and Mexican food to die for!

Insight from Sean Cook, Data Analyst

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Define My Ride: Southern Luxury and Portland Liberals

exelate define my ride

Who wants what? Figure that out, and your marketing is halfway done. We took a look at the regional interest of a range of car types across 3 months of online browsing data in order to see how these spatial patterns varied across the United States.

Some of the results are surprising. Why are more folks in Arizona looking at hybrids than their California neighbors? Perhaps it can be explained by the fact that 4.3 million of 6.5 million AZ residents live in the Phoenix metro area, a place that strongly favors a hybrid vehicle. Why are Pennsylvania residents looking at convertibles more often than Florida residents? Perhaps daydreams drive auto browsing as much as utility…a theory that supports the number of Ferrari shoppers we see!

Some car types display far less regional intensity than others. Sports cars, for instance, are enjoyed more evenly throughout the country, perhaps because young men and mid-life crises are universal. Luxury vehicles, on the other hand, display strong regional biases.

These results are all indexed in order to allow regional comparison. In other words, overall interest in sedans is higher than convertibles by 4-5x. We are comparing regional differences within a body type, rather than the body type popularities to each other. That’s a topic for a different day!

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Capturing Our Interest: Most Popular Sharks

exelate shark week

Discovery’s famous Shark Week™ has kicked off once again! Deadly and hypnotic, there is something about sharks that everyone finds interesting, fascinating, and a bit scary. We looked at data from a popular website that maintains information on wild animals, and with over 100,000 users looking at information on various sea creatures, the great white shark was the one people were the most interested in! In fact, sharks captured 4 of the top 10 most popular sea creatures, with the other 3 being the whale shark, the bull shark and the hammerhead. There is something about these dangerous creatures that makes us want to know more.

Don’t let it keep you out of the water though. In 2012 sharks attacked 53 people in the US, with one fatality. Dangerous? Perhaps. But to put that in perspective, there were almost a million dog attacks and 38 dog attack fatalities in the same year. So keep an eye out, but don’t skip that tropical vacation.

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Online Browsing Behavior: Tablet vs. Smartphone

exelate tablet v smartphone

Mobile browsing has rapidly become an integral part of our everyday online behavior. When looking at mobile behavior, it’s critical to distinguish between different types of mobile devices and how their use differs. The two most common types of mobile devices are smartphones and tablets, and each display unique usage patterns through the day. The following chart displays hourly tablet and smartphone usage. This data is indexed to their respective daily averages in order to make them directly comparable, although raw overall usage of phones outweighs tablets at all hours.

Smartphones are typically kept with us throughout the day, and display a more even distribution of use through our waking hours. This is especially clear when looking at business hours. People don’t often have their tablets with them at work, and have less time to use them. Smartphones, on the other hand, can be used more continuously through the day. Interestingly, smartphones also display a slight but consistent dip between 5 and 6 o’clock, which we attribute to the commute home. Phones don’t work well when you’re driving in your car or on the subway!

Tablets are more heavily weighted towards home use. They show a brief spike of use in the morning before work. This is followed by a fairly flat usage level, and a tremendous spike at the end of the day when we get home from work. By 11 pm, both devices are declining rapidly, with minimum usage occurring around 5 am.

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Safe from Nature: Interest in Public Safety during Summer

exelate disaster safety

Occasionally, we remember that the internet offers more than cats and memes. In some instances, it can be lifesaving, such as when it helps to spread information about an ongoing disaster, or provides safety tips to those affected by such an event.  Given the amount of natural disasters we have seen already this summer, we took a look at some of our data that shows interest in public safety.

While not unexpected, it was clear that safety and preparation tips for disasters are most frequently accessed immediately following a large event. On May 20, an EF5 tornado touched down in Moore, OK, devastating residential areas and schools. Following this major event, traffic to websites about disaster safety increased more than 100%, indicating how important these resources are. Even when examining American websites, distant disasters such as the tremendous floods in India and Nepal in June will cause small jumps in traffic.

As a rule, some disasters such as tornados and hurricanes display strong patterns of seasonality. The tornado season is especially visible, falling dramatically as we move into moved into mid-summer.  On the other hand, disasters such as earthquakes display significantly less seasonality, being a year-round threat.

While we focused on examining the most common types of disasters, the Red Cross can provide you with the information you need to be ready for anything from drought to tsunamis.

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Charitable Giving in the USA

exelate charitable giving

Charitable giving is one of the greatest things we can do to help our fellow man. We decided to take a look at some of the patterns of charity occurring this July within different age groups to see what would emerge. What did was expected, but interesting. The choice of charity seemed to reflect empathy with those in similar situations.

Looking at Generation Y, education was a huge concern, receiving the plurality of attention, followed by social services and welfare- a broad category containing everything from supporting veterans to the impoverished. Gen X followed these trends, but third place is where they differed: Gen Y broke slightly towards health related charities, while Gen X placed more emphasis on religious charities.

As we get to those in the Boomer generation and older, interests changed dramatically. Religion remained in third place, much like their younger Gen X counterparts. New to the mix was politics, with increased political donations correlating with the higher voting participation rates among older citizens. Social services moved up to the number one spot, the only charity type to cross every age group!

On a final note, this does not entirely capture the full range of charitable giving in the United States. In fact, with all things considered, religious donations are the dominant type of charitable giving in America. Tithing and church collections add up to enormous numbers of offline donations which are difficult to capture using web data.

Charity is a big part of the culture here at eXelate – take a look at some pictures from past community service events we have participated in.

Mobile Shopping: Growing Fast, If Unevenly

exelate mobile shopping interests

Mobile shopping has continued to grow since the introduction of Smart Phones, and took a huge leap forward with the introduction of the tablet. In 2012, 11% of all online shopping was done on mobile devices. In 2013, this is expected to reach 15%. By 2016, 1 in 4 online sales will be completed on a mobile device. eMarketer reported just yesterday that US mobile payments are on track to top $1 billion in 2013.

We took a look at a range of shopping segments for June, in order to see how much interest was generated by users on mobile devices, vs. desktop computers. From shoes to food to fashion, mobile shopping continues to grow, but unevenly across segments.

Shoes were in the top plot, with 24% of shopping, including browsing and purchasing, coming from mobile users. This is followed closely by women’s fashion, comfortably beating men’s fashion in mobile browsing. This is despite the fact that men are more likely to shop using mobile devices overall.

PC video games came in at last place. With most video games immediately available for direct download, it makes sense we would see this. While you can watch a trailer or read the news about a game on your phone, you typically need to download it to a PC in order to play it.

In today’s digital world, it’s critical to focus on a mobile strategy, and to be aware of where your company fits within the larger retail ecosystem. Be prepared to harness the power of mobile!

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A Little Bit Country, a LOT Rock ‘n Roll: American Musical Interest

exelate data snax 7.5.13“R-O-C-K in the USA” seems to be alive and well! This week, our data team looked at different musical interests between males and females as well as across different age groups. Between country western, hip hop, jazz, and rock, rock took the cake as the most popular genre among all genders and ages. Some other insights:

  • Country western seems to be gaining popularity – more so for women than men, almost edging out rock as the top musical interest for women.
  • Hip hop and rap are most popular among the young, with a steady downward line in interest as age increases. However, it seems that some folks over 50 are still enjoying it!
  • Apparently, jazz is a genre for a select few – interest for both genders plummets and all age groups show a relatively equal amount of disinterest for it.

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Summer Escapes- Where Do People Take Vacations in the Summer?

eXelate- Summer 2013 Escapes

With summer here and the weather warm, people are planning summer vacations.

Topping off the most sought after location for May vacations was Florida. Whether it’s Disney World or Miami Beach, Americans from all over the country were interested in taking a trip to the Sunshine State. Number 2 proved that surf and sun were the operative vacation interests in America, with California coming in as the second most sought after state. Hawaii, in 5th, extended the palm tree vacations. New York and Texas, in 3rd and 4th respectively, were also important destinations for Americans.

We also took a look at the other side of the coin. Which states had people who were looking at travel the most? The results were interesting. Topping our list was Washington state. Perhaps people wanting to escape those May showers. Washington proved to be a bit anomalous though, as the next five states were all from the South. In the end, humidity might be the greatest vacation motivator of all!

  • People are always on the lookout for some fun in the sun, with 1st and 2nd place going to FL and CA, respectively.
  • Washington state displayed the most interest in travel, but the next 6 spots were all in the South.
  • The larger and more popular a state is, the more likely its residents will look to fly within it. In fact, the top 5 most popular travel destination states all look for travel plans within their own state, before looking outside of it!

Summer Interests: American Grillers


Happy First Day of Summer! To celebrate, we decided to take a look at one of our own favorite outdoor activities – the quintessential American BBQ.

Barbequing, or grilling, is a massively popular form of cooking in America. A full 75% of American households own a grill, and almost half of them grill year round.

We examined a full month’s worth of data in order to find out what BBQers are doing, and it turns out that May featured some intense interest in the Northeast. Not only does the Northeast have the most BBQers in the nation, but they were finally getting the weather to enjoy it. Connecticut, Maryland and Massachusetts led the pack, with the most per capita BBQ interest in the nation. But don’t worry, BBQing is popular nationwide.

It may surprise you that we look for BBQers at all. In fact, we found over 7 MILLION unique users looking for BBQ information or supplies in May alone. So what are you waiting for? Get the grill and beer out. It’s summer!

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