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Share of Search - Measure the results of your branding activities
March 24, 2020

Many companies are having a hard time knowing how big they actually are in their market and understanding simply what market share they have. There is of course a difference, depending on which period you as a marketer measure, but a good time interval is annually. Usually, it is quite costly both in time and money to try to find out if the campaigns you did run had any direct effect, or how you stand up to your industry colleagues and competitors. It can be even more costly to create a forecast going forward that provides some choices in the brand's strategy.

It is important to point out that we are talking about emotional brand building campaigns and not sales activity campaigns, where we can easily measure the outcome. But can we also measure the effectiveness of brand building activities as easily and free of charge? Yes we can!

Today there is a new metric called Share of Search. SOS in short is the share a brand has of a market's total brand search volume.

This is a metric that, among others, Les Binet, head of effectiveness at Adam & Eve DDB has developed and succeeded in proving that SOS is actually a leading indicator of the company's market share and it also has the power to predict where your market share is going and track relative INTEREST in your brand. This sits somewhere in between brand salience and brand consideration.

But does that correlation imply causation? Les Binet reviewed this and confirmed that search is indeed a leading indicator of market share.

In this example of LG, we can actually even see that SOS can be used as an indicator to predict where market share will fall – in this case 6 months later.

This information is key here in understanding what can be done to reverse the slump shown in the graph. The relationship goes in two directions when people search for things they have bought and search for things they might want to buy.

The formula for the whole is the proportion of the search, equal to the search for brand X, divided by the search for all the brands in the category.

Where does the data come from?

All data can be downloaded from Google Trends. There you can easily download all the search history. As Google Trends is unfortunately limited, it only allows you to make five comparisons at a time, so it can take a while to get all the data from the category you are interested in that contains the majority of big players.

When you are done with what you want to download, you can easily export it all to a CSV file and then the spreadsheet magic can begin.

Once you have the spreadsheet file ready, you can put all your Google Trends data in one and the same sheet. For every brand you have in your sheet, you should create a 12-month average so that you will get a smoother line and more comparable charts.

The formula for this equation is 12-month average for brand X divided by the sum of 12-month average for brand Y, 12-month average for brand Z.

The key for the calculation and analysis still lies in the validation. For example, "Ferrari" has a much larger share of the search than "Volkswagen", but that does not reflect the market share. If you then add search terms to the raw data retrieval such as "Ferrari + workshop" and "Volkswagen + workshop", you get much closer to the actual truth about market share.

Since we have several years of data, we can calculate the growth for the brand and based on that give a forecast. The share of the search is located a few months before the actual curve for market share, note that the number of months differs depending on which category you operate in.

How Share of Search could help your brand?

Firstly, SoS can offer insight into brand power and the cross-channel effect of brand deployment. This is potentially more efficient than costly brand surveys that require panels.

SoS probably also provides more insight than brand lift studies as they only say something about the effectiveness of the particular channel the BLS focused on.

Secondly, SoS can be predictive of the served available market (SAM), i.e. the market share. It can therefore be very valuable to monitor this metric, despite the delayed effect between a brand campaign and a rising or falling market share. Note that initial research results are showing that the delayed effect varies by category:

  • - Energy: change in share of market 3 months after changing the share of search.
  • - Telecommunications: change in share of market 6 months after changing the share of search.
  • - Automotive: change in share of market 12 months after changing the share of search.

Initial Conclusions

More work is definitely needed to work out the complete relationships between SOS and marketing performance, but early signs are promising. In fact, it has drawn up a few other areas that SOS could be really useful in. This is just the beginning and more will definitely come. Feel free to start experimenting and keep in mind that we emanate here from a strategic point of view so everything depends.