In a recent interview, Les Binet, group head of effectiveness at Adam&eveDDB, outlined his pioneering pursuit of an alternative metric suitable for the digital era. After exploring and rejecting candidate metrics including share of social and user sentiment, he determined that Share of Search provided the best proxy. 

The logic is as follows: SoS reflects market share (or imminent market share growth) because people are more likely to seek information on things they already have or are about to buy. 

That simple correlation is just the beginning, because the array of use cases for the SoS metric is surprisingly broad and powerful. 

Share of search reveals opportunities and threats

With accurate SoS data, you can answer a variety of important questions about your overall market strategy. How does your brand performance compare to that of your competitors?

How do different brands within your own portfolio stack up against one another? Of total available demand, how much are you acquiring?

SoS can be used to predict demand for inventory planning purposes, for example, or to decide in which of your categories to launch a new product

Consider a brand, for example, that makes and sells treadmills, rowing machines, elliptical trainers, and bike adapters for home gyms. The brand could use SoS to assess generic category terms (vs branded terms) across categories and measure the relative search interest for those different product types to identify hot spots worthy of investment and promotion. 

With benchmarking, you could also see over time whether major marketing activity has driven an increase in search interest for your own brand instead of generic searches, or whether you have just taken branded interest from other brands without impacting generic interest.

How do you calculate share of search?

Although it is possible, for a few brand terms, to generate share of search from Keyword Planner this isn’t reliable or possible at scale. To properly measure your SoS, you need a model with the following components:

  • First-party data
  • The ability to capture a set of branded terms (including brand-generics) within or across categories
  • Market-level data (such as Adthena Whole Market View)
  • The ability to segment by device
  • The ability to segment by region or Designated Market Area (DMA)
  • Search volume (either actual or relative) for your selected terms

Five use cases for share of search

The charts here capture category-specific UK SoS data for select Scotch Whiskey brands, with Diageo’s Johnny Walker brand taking the top spot (aligning with most other assessments of market share for the category). 

Here are five questions Diageo or any of the other listed brands could answer using SoS reports over time:

  1. Top-level attribution. How does consumer interest respond after the launch of a major marketing campaign or new product? Binet says that for certain considered purchases, advertising can trigger short term SoS changes that may foretell long-term impact. 
  2. Are we maximizing our spend on brand and ROI?
  3. Is our brand under attack from competition?
  4. Is our brand under-performing in certain locations?
  5. How effective is our cross-device or cross-channel strategy?

Measure your share of search now:

Want to know how much of the market you really own? Adthena’s Share of Search tool is here! And available for you to use completely free. Get started here.