I have always been a big fan of Google Trends, which then morphed into Google Insights for Search. Both of these tools are great at giving you insight into trends on search terms, websites, competitors or related sites, across countries and time periods.
Google UK’s Advertising Toolkit has a different ‘insight’ offering, which I think I love just as much. What it does is, it collates stories for industries regarding online news. For example, for Finance, if you look at ‘study’, you can see two papers you might be interested in “Understanding finance consumer’s online research strategies” and “how does the credit crunch impact online financial advertisers?”
Then, if you click on summary instead, it will give you things like (for the finance industry) – credit card summary, home insurance summary, etc. with some great explanations about how those industries work online and what the trends are like for that sector. It shows colourful easy to follow graphs, not just tonnes of boring numbers.
So, you just choose your industry, then Google will give you a list of possible studies on it, which are all related to online marketing.
Alternatively, you can choose ‘all’ and see some great papers and presentations on general online marketing tips, like ‘how to use search as a branding tool’.
Here is yet another distraction for me, I could read this stuff all day…