Google search trends used to calculate floating prophylactic prices

The more you worry about what's going on below the belt, the further the price drops. Now to short the market


Australian personal protective equipment company Ansell has started pricing its condoms using a value calculated by analysing Google search trends.

Ansell's bread and butter is protective products for industrial and medical settings. But the company also operates "Lifestyles", a brand that makes condoms, lubricants and "vibrating devices" that The Register gathers has some relationship to the previous two product categories.

Lifestyles has decided the way to promote its product is to create a floating price for its prophylactic products based on how often Australians search Google for info about sexually transmitted diseases.

"Our platform works by gathering real time Google Search data related to six separate sexually transmitted infections," the company's publicly traded portal pronounces. "The data gathered include the STI name, (e.g., 'gonorrhoea'), its key symptoms and adjacent search terms (e.g., 'painful urination') plus interest by region."

That info is all pumped into an algorithm that produces the "STI Index".

When the Index is high, condom prices go low. And when the Index droops, the cost of a 30-pack trends back towards its usual price.

Lifestyles' site has an FAQ and one is "Who made it?" The Register is not sure whether to be relieved or disappointed that the answer is not "very serious economists".

The answer is actually "marketers" because the STI is a sales-stimulating stunt that tries to make the point that Lifestyles' products are an investment in health.

At this point your correspondent imagines Reg readers' subversive brains might consider that a few well-trained bots could create a short-selling opportunity. Here's how: artificial searches for the relevant terms could send the STI Index sky-high and drive Lifestyles' prices and profits down! Enough of that could see Ansell stock slide, too.

Sadly such schemes could founder on the fact that Ansell's share price is looking rather perky at present, thanks to a certain pandemic and associated social-distancing measures that probably mean the STI index is unlikely to peak in the near future. ®


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