Google: High search interest by Filipinos for Duterte, 2016 polls

MANILA, Philippines – From campaigns to debates, and from election day to inauguration day, Filipinos closely followed the 2016 national elections and the inauguration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

This was evident in online activities, Google said, as Filipinos flocked to the search engine and to video hosting site YouTube to look for related information about these events.

According to data from Google, there was increased interest for search and video content regarding the new Duterte administration and the 2016 polls. (READ: How Philippine presidential candidates turn up on Google)

For instance, videos related to President Duterte's inauguration on June 30 – from the livestreams to the President's inaugural speech to news reports – in 12 major channels on YouTube garnered a total of 8.8 million views as of 5 pm, July 3.

While Duterte's inauguration was ongoing, there were 1,793,135 total views on the major YouTube channels, peaking at 125,682 viewers watching simultaneously.

Google also noted very high engagement and longer times in watching Duterte's inauguration, with a 168% increase in watch hours and an average view duration of 25 minutes.

From candidacy to presidency

Filipino online users also searched for Duterte's journey to the presidency.

Between September 2015 and July 2016, search interest for the term "Duterte" in the Philippines peaked during the week of the May 9 elections both on Google Search and YouTube.

On Google, there were also spikes in interest for "Duterte" during the week of October 11, 2015 – the period when certificates of candidacy were filed – and during the week of November 29, 2015, days after Duterte threw his hat in the presidential race by substituting for a partymate. Interest was also high during Duterte's inauguration as the Philippines' 16th President.

Meanwhile, the graph below mirrors the search interest for "Duterte" over the past 90 days compared to interest in trending topics such as Game of Thrones, the 2016 NBA Finals, and the results of the 2016 polls. Again, "Duterte" searches were high during his inauguration and around election day.

Interest in searching for "Duterte cabinet" also picked up after the President's May 9 poll victory. (LIST: Who's who in the Duterte Cabinet)

"Filipinos flocked to Google Search and YouTube to find and consume information around our elections. Data shows that Pinoys are really leaning forward online more than ever before," Gail Tan, communications and public affairs head of Google in the Philippines and Thailand, told Rappler.

"They're not just passive receivers of all sorts of content, browsing, scrolling and glancing over for a few seconds. They have clear intent to search for nationally relevant information," she added.

When Filipinos search for historic, national moments on YouTube, Tan observed that they do so "because they are truly interested. And when they click on a video, they become engaged, hence the impressive watch hours we've seen so far."

She added that in the Philippines, watch time on YouTube is growing by 80% year-on-year. Meanwhile, the average length of a user's online session on YouTube on mobile devices is 75 minutes.

"We think it’s a sign of what is to come, and that this will encourage the creation of more content that’s significant and relevant to the everyday lives of Filipinos," Tan continued.

Debates, election results

The presidential debates also garnered a lot of attention on YouTube.

The first debate scored over 729,000 page views during the February 21 air date, and over 4 million total views until July 3.

The 2nd debate on March 20 had around 672,000 views on the day itself, and 2.8 million views up to July 3. The 3rd and final one got 601,000 views on April 24, with a total 2.4 million views until July 3.

Google search interest spiked during the 3 debates, with the highest measured during the 2nd presidential debate. There was also high interest for the lone vice presidential debate on April 10.

Demand for 2016 election results was likewise high, besting search interest for "election news" and "election results" during the 2010 and the 2013 polls on YouTube.

All the graphs above from Google Trends show the popularity of a search term or the interest for it – not its absolute search volume – relative to the total number of searches on Google over a certain period of time.

Michael Bueza

Michael Bueza is a researcher and data curator under Rappler's Research Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.