With media outlets calling the results of the EU referendum in the wee hours of the morning, Brits turned to the Internet for news and information. Brexit vote reactions were varied, and often demonstrated confusion and shock. According to Hitwise, a division of Connexity, visits to online News and Media sites in the UK increased 50% on Friday, June 24th, 2016 compared to the previous Friday. But besides news sites, Brits—many surprised by the vote results—turned to search engines to get answers to Brexit-related topics.
In fact, Hitwise found that all of the top online question searches in the UK on the day the voting results were known focused directly on the referendum with the top question people were searching for being: “What will happen to EU citizens in the UK?” In fact, this search accounted for 1 in every 300 question searches conducted in the United Kingdom on Friday.
Many in the UK (and abroad) were concerned and even shocked at the apparent lack of an informed electorate in the wake of a Google report issued Friday which showed that “What is the EU?” was one of the top referendum-related Google searches in the hours immediately after the results were announced. While still unsettling, Hitwise data found that when looking at searches across all search engines during the entire day on Friday, “What is the EU?” ranked only 24th among online question searches overall, accounting for just 1 in every 1,900 question searches that day. At the same time, the fact that “What is Brexit?,” which accounted for 1 in every 500 question searches Friday, ranked as the number three question search overall is unlikely to reassure many in the Remain camp.
What are British citizen’s top concerns?
Uncertainty was the most common theme represented in online searches on Friday. Searches including “happen(s),” as in “What happens if we leave the EU?”, or “mean(s),” as in “What does leaving the EU mean?” were the most commonly repeated keywords in question searches related to the referendum. Given the shocking outcome, though, it’s no wonder British people are seeking answers on what comes next.
Other common specific themes of interest on Friday included the value of the pound. In fact, one in every 75 question searches included the word “pound” that day. Brits, like most of the world, also commonly wanted to know how long it will take for the UK to officially leave the European Union.
In the weeks leading up to the vote, Hitwise reported that concerns over immigrants and expats were the most common among those searching around the referendum and also specifically related to “leave” searches. Now that the UK has officially voted to leave, these search topics will be of even greater interest. In fact, on that note, Britons as well as non-Brits residing in the UK scrambled to find out how to get a passport to either another EU country or the UK in first few hours after the vote was announced.
On Friday, Ireland was the top country for which British residents were seeking passport information, followed closely by searches for how to obtain a British or UK passport. Many instances of searches for British passports were seeking passports for children who may have never been issued one. Other countries mentioned in passport-related searches on Friday include, (in descending order): “Polish,” “German,” “Portuguese,” “Cypriot” and “Spanish.”
On a related topic, “move” searches were up 34% on the day the election results were announced compared to the previous Friday. Canada ranked high atop the list of countries to which Britons were seeking to move, with one in every 16 “move” searches mentioning “Canada.” Australia came in a distant second, mentioned in one in every 37 move searches. France, Ireland and America rounded out the top five.
Who’s moving to Canada?
Some Brexit vote reactions were even more dramatic; using our AudienceView platform, we were able to learn more about the population exploring a move to Canada in the aftermath of the vote. Specifically, we found that Britons ages 18 to 24 were more than two times more likely than average to have researched such a move. In fact, 60% of those looking to move to the Great White North were under the age of 35. Canada should be pleased to learn, too, that those researching a move have deep pockets. More specifically, those residing in households with annual incomes in excess of £55,000 were 1.6 times more likely to have looked into moving to Canada.
A second referendum?
Distraught Remain voters quickly began pushing for a second referendum and on Friday one in every 34 online searches for “referendum” included the word “second” or “2nd.” At the time of this post, a petition to the UK government calling for such a second referendum had received 3.8 million signatures.
Using AudienceView, we were also able to learn more about those behind the push. Like those seeking to move to Canada, those hoping for a second referendum are young with 47% being under the age of 35. They’re also wealthier with those earning over £55,000 being 1.6 times more likely than average to have searched for information on a second referendum.
Based on their other online searches, we also learned that this audience is disproportionately more interested in getting a passport, in the NHS (specifically as it related to Nigel Farage’s comments) as well as Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
For more information on Hitwise, click here.