Sony recently unveiled plans to release the PlayStation 4, ushering in the eighth generation of video games consoles. Fans went berserk online and during the week of the announcement 1 in every 900 searches online were related to the new Sony console. In amongst the thousands of different ways that people were searching for PlayStation though, one of the most striking things was that relatively few people were actually using the term ‘playstation’ which had me wondering – is the PlayStation brand dying?
Of course the entity that is PlayStation remains incredibly strong, but in terms of taxonomy (how we name stuff) people are much more likely to search for the acronym ‘ps’ rather than ‘playstation’. On the day of the Sony announcement (20 February 2013) ‘ps4’ was the 31st most searched for term in the UK compared to ‘playstation 4’ which ranked in 40th position. When we looked at the total search volume of recurring keywords for PlayStation 4 searches between December 2012 and February 2013 only 33% of searches included the word ‘playstation’ whereas 67% included ‘ps4’.
What this means is that when people are searching for the PlayStation product they are twice as likely to search for the shorthand version ‘ps4’ than they are for the longhand version ‘playstation 4’.
This isn’t a particularly new revelation. If we look at the Google trends of searches for ‘playstation 3’ vs ‘ps3’ the shorthand version has been more popular since 2005.
What is interesting is the gap is growing. As PS becomes the dominant parlance that consumers associate with PlayStation, the usage of the word ‘playstation’ is becoming more scarce. When we did a similar keyword assessment for variations of PlayStation 3, an astonishing 82% of searches contained the word ‘ps3’ compared to just 18% for ‘playstation 3’. As users become more familiar with the new PlayStation we would fully expect ‘ps4’ to be adopted with similar if not greater dominance.
Ultimately does any of this matter? Should we care if the word ‘playstation’ drops out of usage to replaced with ‘ps’? Does it matter if PS becomes the next BBC or BMW where the brands are better known as their acronyms than their individual words (British Broadcasting Corporation and Bayerische Motoren Werke for those who were wondering)? For the average consumer it probably doesn’t matter – but for the SEO this is important – because in search it always comes back to relevance, and if you want to be relevant then you want to be jumping on the ps4 search terms.
PlayStation from a search perspective is dead – long live the PS.
Until next month.