Have you decided what to dress up as for Halloween yet? Me neither. If you're a true Halloween fan, the onus is always on you to not only stand out at a party, but also top last year's costume. While you can never be sure there won't be another person dressed as Zombie Guy Fieri, you can lower the chances of doubling up on someone else’s idea thanks to Google. Using search queries from Google Trends data, Google News Lab has launched Frightgeist, an interactive look at the nation's most popular Halloween costume choices.
The "Trending Locally" map lets you scroll over major cities to see what the most searched term is, and clicking through will give you the top five results. The choices are culled from the top 500 costume searches in the country, which are ranked in the "Trending Nationally" section. Some standouts include the standard Star Wars characters and superheroes, of course, while pirates are popular in ocean-adjacent states. For some reason, sharks are huge in St. Joseph, Missouri, and gray wolf pops up more than you'd think. The country's number one pick this year? Batman comic book nemesis Harley Quinn, who appears in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. So all you fangirls out there may want to consider a comic book villainess who's a little more esoteric to avoid a Harley-off this weekend.
Frightgeist is just one specific use for Google Trends. According to Google, over 3 billion searches take place on their site each day. The data from these searches helps many industries from journalism to sales to get real-time feedback on what interests people. I'm mostly concerned that no else is going as Mummy Mario Batali. I'd better Google that one with quotes.