Welcome to the July 2021 edition of Top Conversations in Technology, where we break down which topics are leading, rising and falling each month to help technology marketers maximize relevance and adapt to changing market dynamics. In this month’s analysis, we focus on variations in news and blog citation volumes month-over-month (versus June 2021) and year-over-year (versus July 2020).
Big Picture: Despite all the wildfire smoke plaguing the western U.S., one thing is clear: this summer is filled with misinformation. The topic jumped into the top 10 for July (#8, up from #16, with an 86% story count increase), fueled somewhat ironically by a hard push from the White House to fight misinformation. Disinformation was up as well (+18%, moving up one spot to #28), though misinformation remains a more popular term. With the Delta variant spurring heavy discussion about vaccination and masks, and our ongoing hyper-politicized world, it’s doubtful this topic will settle down soon.
Meanwhile, though it’s not on our tech topic index, “mandate” registered nearly 40% more mentions in July (243,141) than its rolling 12-month average (176,442). “Vaccine mandate” showed an even more dramatic trend. It registered 584% more mentions in July than its 12-month average (40,974 vs. 5,992). This suggests that misinformation aside, governments and businesses are working to get us to “the new normal,” and they see the road paved, at least in part, with vaccine cards.
Top 10 Analysis: Outside of misinformation, we saw only minor changes in this month’s top 10 rankings. #1 Bitcoin (down 6%) and #2 Cryptocurrencies (down 4%) remained at the top of the chart, hardly surprising given that Bitcoin market value has grown over 60% this year (Source: Morning Brew). Smartphones held steady at #3 (up 3%), trailing the top two by a 180K+ story margin, but outpacing all other topics by more than 30K stories. Supply Chain moved up to #4 from #5, to the surprise of no one, tied to the lack of consistent production and product availability. Blockchain dropped to #5 as people worried slightly more about how they would get things over how they would keep the transactions secure.
Subsequent top 10 topics also had minimal changes; #6 E-commerce (up 5%), #7 Cybersecurity (up 10%) and #10 Drones (-0.2%) held firm in rankings. 5G slid from #8 to #9 (down 4%). Artificial Intelligence dropped out of the top 10, falling from #9 to #11 (down 7%). The only other major movement in the top 20 was Contact Tracing, which climbed to #19 (from #27) and registered a 35% increase in coverage volume.
What’s Climbing: The highest growth topic in July was Domain Name System (up 292%), driven largely by coverage of Akamai’s Internet outage due to “DNS issues,” showing us that security remains top of mind alongside the pandemic. Additional high-gainer security topics in July included:
- #41 Data Security – up 79%
- #54 Infrastructure Security – up 58%
- #91 Ransomware-as-a-Service/RaaS – up 43%
- #60 Network Security – up 40%
Tangentially, we added Metaverse as a new topic in July, debuting at #68 up from what would have been #85 in June. The topic has grown exponentially in volume this year, from roughly 900 stories per month in 2019 and 1,500 per month in 2020 to averaging more than 4,000 stories per month in 2021. The Metaverse sub-discussion Surveillance Capitalism also showed notable growth (up 46%, from #172 to #161).
What’s Falling: Just over half of the topics we track (110 out of 195) decreased in citation volume from June to July. Only seven lost 40% or more, and these topics were low-volume topics ranked below #140, including:
- #158 Encryption Keys – down 63%
- #189 Asynchronous Video – down 55%
- #188 Voice Interface – down 50%
- #178 Everything-as-a-Service – down 49%
- #180 Location Tracking/Privacy – down 47%
- #142 Voice Remote – down 46%
- #170 Video Messaging – down 40%
The highest-ranking topics that lost ground were:
- #63 Digital Wallet – down 34%
- #48 Smart Homes – down 28%
- #37 Encryption – down 23%
Of note: #16 Ransomware, which had been on a tear in recent months, was down 16% from its May/June high, but remained up overall for the year. It registered a greater than 300% increase from July 2020 and more than 350% from July 2019.
Looking Ahead: Moving into the end of summer, the Delta variant shows no more signs of stopping than ransomware attacks do. Heightened attention by Big Tech and the White House on security should keep those topics at the forefront of technology discussions. As summer winds down, we’re watching to see how conversations evolve with the ever-changing landscape. Bottoms up on the margaritas, folks, it’s almost pumpkin spice latte time.
Questions? Comments? See a topic we are not tracking? Please share below, and we will address in future installments.