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Searching for Information Online: Using Big Data to Identify the Concerns of Potential Army Recruits

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Technical Report

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RAND Corporation -Arroyo Center Santa Monica United States

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In this report, we assess some empirical applications of web search data and discuss the prospective value such data can offer to Army recruiting efforts. We discuss three different toolsGoogle Trends, Google AdWords, and Google Correlatethat can be used to access and analyze readily available, anonymous data from Internet searches related to the Army and to Army service. We find that Google search queries can be used to better understand how interest in military careers has evolved over time and geographic location, and even identify the foremost Army-related concerns that potential recruits experience. Moreover, it is possible to predict with reasonable accuracy what non-Army related terms people are searching for in the months before or after an Army query. Finally, our results suggest that search terms can serve as a measure of propensity and can be used to predict the overall proportion of highly qualified Army accessions. We close with a brief discussion of the implications that can be drawn and fruitful areas for future research.

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