Google trends can often come up with some interesting data;
"GDX" searches on Google
Over the last 3 years there has been a very steady increase in news reference volume for GDX
Also "Gold miners" searches on Google;
A similar picture with gold miners.
More news reference volume clearly leads to more public awareness. In some ways I think the performance of the miners compared to gold itself is perhaps related to the public still not believing in gold as it rises higher and higher, really typical of bull markets. The majority aren't on board. Perhaps a trigger point is needed, that may be a sustained rise above $2000.