Friday Fun: The Market Value of Research Topics

16 May 2014 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

[A guest post from Peter St. Onge, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Feng Chia University in Taiwan.]

Is academia the epitome of mankind’s quest for knowledge? Is it an adjunct to the productive forces that drive us ever-closer to a utopia of plenty? Or is it a self-licking ice cream cone? Here are a few data points.

For each keyword or phrase-in-quotes, the first column measures google searches (average ttm, in thousands, reported 5/15/14 on Google Adwords Keyword Planner). The second column measures academic papers on Google scholar between 2012-2013 (as of 5/15/14). The third column measures the ratio of academic papers divided by monthly searches. And the fourth column gives Google Adwords’ “suggested bid” — this suggests what an advertiser might offer for a “click” when somebody enters the search term or phrase, so is roughly the market value of a visitor searching for that term.

These measures are roughly intended to capture popular interest (the quest for knowledge) and market value (adjunct to production) compared to academic interest.

First, some general business terms, with “gender identity” thrown in for fun, ranked by papers-to-search ratios:

Google Scholar Google monthly searches (k) Papers 12-13 (k) Papers/ searches Suggested Bid
management 40.5 785 19.4 $5.25
“gender identity” 8.1 146 18.0 $1.99
“Corporate Strategy” 1.9 20.9 11.0 $10.83
accounting 40.5 343 8.5 $7.66
marketing 60.5 342 5.7 $6.45
entrepreneurship 33.1 80.1 2.4 $4.58
finance 823.0 301 0.4 $8.22


The highest ratio of academic vs popular interest? Management. Beating even “gender identity.” And the lowest? Finance, followed by entrepreneurship. The people demand more finance and entrepreneurship papers. Perhaps because they want to learn how to invest and start businesses, but this is conjecture.

What else jumps out here is the overwhelming interest among the public in finance. Indeed, there are more than 4 times more searches for the word finance than all the other terms together. “Finance” is 20 times more popular than accounting or management, and 15 times more than marketing. Perhaps business schools are misallocating their resources unless their departments aren’t at least 80% finance?

A third fun round of trivia comes from the last column — suggested bid. Here we have a rough market value per visitor. “Gender identity” at 2 bucks isn’t surprisingly — how does one monetize? But some of the other numbers are interesting. Finance, of course, is high — just under “Corporate Strategy” and slightly above accounting. But, again, management and marketing suffer here, with relatively low value of customers. And entrepreneurship, sadly, brings up the rear, just a notch above the gender crowd.

Next up, I’ll run the same sequence on various marketing terms:

Google Scholar Google monthly searches (k) Papers 12-13 (k) Papers/ searches Suggested Bid
“Relationship marketing” 2.4 14.4 6.0 $10.10
“Direct Marketing” 6.6 11.8 1.8 $14.14
“Viral Marketing” 3.6 5.2 1.4 $6.22
“Online Marketing” 8.1 7.4 0.9 $15.07
“Internet Marketing” 12.1 7.5 0.6 $14.37
“Social Media Marketing” 18.1 5.6 0.3 $16.40
“Email Marketing” 14.8 2.2 0.1 $45.68
“Affiliate marketing” 18.1 1.2 0.1 $4.30


Here there’s a lot more to sink one’s teeth into. First off, we can see that internet marketing is severely under-represented in the paper count. Affiliate and Email Marketing are the most neglected, with total searches half the term “marketing” itself (33k vs 60k) but with a total of 3,400 papers over the 2-year period, versus 342,000 papers for “marketing” as a generic term. In general, the suggested bids are excellent for new media: around $15 per click for online, internet, social media and direct marketing, and a shocking $45 for email marketing (which has a healthy monetization funnel). The anomaly here is $4 for affiliate marketing, surprising to me given the funnel.

Finally, let’s run some O&M terms:

Google Scholar Google monthly searches (k) Papers 12-13 (k) Papers/ searches Suggested Bid
Institutions 3.6 472 131.1 $10.59
“Economic History” 0.6 39.3 65.5 $0
“Theory of the Firm” 0.4 20.8 52.0 $0.20
“Business History” 0.3 9.1 30.3 $3.02
“New Institutional Economics” 0.2 5.9 29.5 $0
“Management Theory” 0.9 20.9 23.2 $0.07
“Financial Markets” 3.6 53.4 14.8 $0.31
“Public Policy” 14.8 153 10.3 $14.45
Innovation 49.5 499 10.1 $4.60
“Strategic Management” 6.6 49.9 7.6 $8.98
Entrepreneurship 33.1 80.1 2.4 $4.58
“Austrian Economics” 4.4 2.4 0.5 $1.21


Long story short, what the world really needs is more articles on Austrian Economics.

Entry filed under: Ephemera.

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Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment: A New Approach to the Firm (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
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