Most searched Olympians of 2012 London games

August 15, 2012 by Experian Marketing Services

The 2012 London Summer Olympic Games closed with a tremendous party Sunday evening, but we couldn’t resist just one more friendly competition: of the beloved athletes who led the U.S. to the most medals at these games, which are the most searched? Over the past few weeks we have tracked online searches of the U.S. athletes to see who’s in the race for online popularity and who will be able to sustain their rise to fame after the Olympics.

The week before the Olympics started, 17-year-old swimmer Lia Neal held the first spot with 21.71% of searches among all the 2012 U.S. athletes. During that same time, hurdler Lolo Jones leaped into the top ten with 1.93% of searches.

Source: Experian Hitwise

During the week of the opening ceremonies, Jones jumped 21 percentage points to the number one spot, accounting for 22.75% of searches among the athletes. With the mounting build-up set to take place over the next week at the aquatic center, swimmer Ryan Lochte took second over his teammate Michael Phelps in the race for most popular online, with 8.6% and 7.79% of searches respectively during the week ending July 28.
Source: Experian HitwiseExperian Hitwise

After the first week of competition was over and Phelps made Olympic history as the most decorated Olympian ever, just like his medal count his online popularity rose to number one with an increase of ten percentage points from the previous week. Searches for Michael Phelps accounted for 17.86% of searches for U.S. Olympians during the week ending August 4. Despite his popularity with the ladies, Lochte fell off the top ten list; he was defeated by some of the female swimmers who powered their way into the week’s top ten searched.  Also appearing were several members of the “Fab 5” – the women’s gymnastics team.
Source: Experian Hitwise

At the end of the second week of competition, Lolo Jones reclaimed her number one position with 12.54% of searches for the week ending August 11. Swimming events ended and track and field events took over this week, which is reflected in Phelps’ drop from the top ten and sprinter Tyson Gay’s appearance in the number two spot with an increase of 10 percentage points from the previous week. Other stand out performers this week were  gymnast McKayla Maroney – whose “not impressed” photo after winning a silver medal went viral – and Hope Solo from the U.S. Women’s soccer team; both made it in the top five.  Beach volleyball star Misty May-Traynor also held on in the top five, although she dropped from the number three position she held the previous week.
Source: Experian Hitwise

These search results help athletes and marketers alike. Now that the athletes continue onto publicity tours and endorsement deals, they have a chance to make a name for themselves and their sport, and earn a good paycheck. For marketers it’s an opportunity to see who captured the interest of Americans and might be a good candidate for endorsement. Even if you won’t be hiring an Olympian, this kind of search intelligence can help you learn popular terms and benefit from those that drive traffic in your industry.

Which Olympians will sustain popularity as excitement of the games subsides? We’ll continue our coverage to find out.

For more online consumer trends, visit the Hitwise Online Trend Center.