The Campaign

(Tr)end The Syrian War is a data-driven campaign.

With the help of Google Trends, we created an algorithm to scan all search terms in Germany. It identified thousands of keywords that are searched for more often than Syria. The search trends were visualized in real-time on our platform. We then used the searchdata to target users based on their search behavior. With the help of thisdata, the campaign highlights the dramatic lack of interest in the country,which has been plagued by war for ten years.


Even after ten years, there is no end in sight to the war in Syria.

What began with protests for more democracy has since cost the lives of more than half a million people. More than 12 million people have fled or are still running in Syria and neighboring countries. However, the fate of these people hardly plays a role in public. The Syrian war has largely disappeared from our collective memory. Since last year the world has been plagued by a pandemic, which has pushed the war on the back burner. To cut through the noise, we needed a campaign that doesn’t blend in with other more traditionally emotional campaigns. We needed a campaign that caught users in the act of ignoring the devastating war. The objective was to bring the war in Syria back into the public perception so that people, media, and politics get involved and help again.


Not only the media has lost interest in the Syrian war. Our search behavior shows the same. While it’s not all too surprising that Netflix and Kim Kardashian are searched for more often than Syria, it is shocking that Tax Return or Asparagus are trending topics and not the war. The campaign reflects the interest inSyria with different search terms from everyday life for the last 10 years.Doing so highlights the dramatic lack of interest in the country, which has been plagued by war for 10 years. The data-driven platform shines a light on shocking search results like never before.


We developed an algorithm for the campaign that evaluates search queries onGoogle. Google is the largest search engine on the Internet, with 18.5 million users per day in Germany alone. The algorithm recognizes search terms inGermany that have been searched for more on average in the last 10 years, i.e.that attract more interest than Syria. Google Trends data reflects the search queries that users submit to Google every day. The data is anonymous. The results are categorized and summarized. In this way, Google Trends can reflect the worldwide or even regional level of interest regarding specific topics. In this case, we used regional data for Germany and individual major cities. The data was used to target users according to their search interests. For example, if someone was searching for soccer, that user would see our online media ad with a related topic such as Bayern Munich.

How it works

To cut through all the noise, the Action Alliance for Disaster Relief needed a revolutionary approach. An approach based on real-time data. Google Trends is most commonly used to understand keyword search volume or to identify seasonal trends. We used the data to compare shocking contrasts in our search behavior.Our algorithm identified thousands of search terms that, on average, are more important to the people in Germany than the War in Syria. We used this data to compare the results in real-time on our platform and in our advertisements. This way, we were able to use the data to tell a story in a new way. Because the fact is our search behavior speaks volumes about what’s important to us and what’s not. The data was integrated into our platform and allowed users to discover Germany’s trending topics – or at least those that trend compared toSyria.


The campaign's main objective was to bring the war in Syria back into the public perception so that people, media, and politics get involved in Syria, theSyrian conflict, and help again. In other words: raise awareness and push donations. This data-driven campaign succeeded in doing so. In just a few weeks, donations increased by 72% compared to last year's campaign. And the search behavior started to change, making Syria more relevant than other topics again, e.g., Kim Kardashian or cosmetics. In the first few weeks of the campaign, search queries for Syria went up by 83% compared to prior months. On top, we generated over 9 million media impressions, and the media chimed in on the conversation and started reporting about Syria again.

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