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Soccer fans are gathering today in bars, homes and offices to cheer on their teams during the World Cup. In a loft in San Francisco, a group of Google employees are also watching the game, but they're watching for work.
Welcome to Google's World Cup war room.
Fans all over the world use Google to search for information during the World Cup. So far, Google says there have been 1.5 billion searches.
A group of Google employees meet in this office every day during the tournament to mine those searches for information. Data analysts first identify the most popular topics in these Google searches. Designers then create infographics, which are posted on Google's website as well as shared on social media and with news outlets such as ESPN.
For example, as Colombia made it into the quarterfinals, James Rodriguez became the most searched-for player on the planet. So the Google team produced an infographic to showcase that trend.
"In 2010, the World Cup had more interest than the Olympics, Tour de France and the Super Bowl combined," says Roya Soleimani, Google's Trends Manager, who monitors global trends for the search giant. "So I think we shattered that even more this year with 1.5 billion searches so far. Other big sporting events generally are in the hundreds of millions."
Neil Doshi of CRT Capital says Google's main goal in this project is taking on Twitter. That rival social media site breaks down millions of Tweets for trends and information that can be helpful for companies. Doshi says Google is trying to show advertisers that it can be every bit as capable as Twitter when providing real-time analytics of events.
Google has engaged in these kinds of projects in the past for events such as the Super Bowl and the Oscars. But the search giant has never conducted one on this scale.
Time will tell if advertisers are impressed by these real-time snapshots of what fans are searching for as the players battle for the World Cup trophy.
—by CNBC's Josh Lipton.