Rory McIlory’s public popularity is now higher than the three main global brands which he represents, major new research has revealed. The World’s No.1 golfer has now overtaken Nike, Bose and the Swiss watchmaker Omega, according to a scientific study.

The data analytics company, Adoreboard, a tech start up based at Queen’s University, Belfast, claims that McIlroy’s online brand reputation is soaring – just short of the likes of Coca Cola, but ahead of Pepsi and BMW when compared during the week of last month’s Australian Open championship.

The study tracked McIlroy for more than six months – since the time he called off his engagement to the tennis star Caroline Wozniaki in May when his ratings dipped significantly to his Open golf championship in July and September’s Ryder Cup triumphs when his popularity rocketed.

Adoreboard examines, assesses and analyses online emotion to determine how specific brands are rated by the public and by entering a specific brand name into an online platform, the researchers can come up with an index rating called Adorescore which varies between minus 100 to 100.

A study revealed that just over a week ago McIlroy achieved an Adorescore of 51 which left him five points ahead of sponsors Bose, the sound system manufacturers and Omega and seven in front of Nike, the sports company whose clubs he endorsed in an eye-watering multi-million pound deal.

Other highs and lows charted in what has been a stunning year on the course includes his win at the US PGA at Valhalla in August to the time he withdrew from competitive action last month to prepare for his forthcoming legal action against his former management company which is due to go before Dublin’s Commercial Court in the coming months.

His decision to declare for the Republic of Ireland instead of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, his home country, in the 2016 Olympics resulted in mixed emotions across the world, according to the study.

In December, he won the Golf Writers Trophy for the second time in three years.

However, it’s the research by this emerging new analytics company which has confirmed him as one of sport’s undisputed superstars with a brand name to match his status.

Chris Johnston, a founder, said the technology used by Adoreboard aims to disrupt traditional ways of evaluating brands and sponsorships through what he claims to be the world’s first real time metric for understanding how people feel about brands online.

He said: “Brands currently spend billions of dollars on sponsorship every year trying to influence how people feel. Yet there is no single metric to understand the impact of this on consumers. Adoreboard aims to measure what really matters – the human factor of online emotions – and in doing so aims to revolutionise how brands interact with people.”

The Northern Ireland based experts claim their internet gauge can detect 24 specific emotions ranging from boredom to anger which can be traced through as many as 60,000 news and blog sources. They include social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

The study also showed that McIlroy achieved 40 times more mentions in online news than Nike and 60 times more than Bose.

Dr Gary McKeown, an expert in communication and emotions at the School of Psychology at Queen’s said McIlroy’s excitement and potential undoubtedly attracted vast interest.

He said: “This creates a novelty and vibrancy that is hard for established brands to generate alone. It is this kind of attention generation that brands seek to attach to themselves when they associate with new talent and sports stars.”

Some of the world’s leading brands, including one of the top “magic circle” law firms in Britain, have successfully used the new metric to improve their recruitment processes. Several others, including Havas EHS, part of Havas Worldwide, one of the largest global communication groups, have applied the metric to measure the emotional impact linked to the launch of new world wide retail products.

Ben Silcox, head of data and digital lead for Unilever with Havas EHS, said the speed at which digital media is shaping how people spend more and more time online, was now paving the way for disruptive technology.

He said: “The time is now ripe to combine real world behaviour and technology in a more contextual way as the intent and emotion that people feel before and after a digital interaction can be far more insightful.

“It is about understanding how people are reacting, and what they are trying to communicate online. This is an emerging space when a new measurement like the Adorescore can inform clients about things they previously didn’t know, and ultimately improve how they deliver products and services.”