Is Share of Search the new Share of Voice?

Share of Voice (SoV) is a classic metric that marketers have loved and relied on for decades. It's long been used as a shortcut and future indicator of the business critical metric market share.

Share of Voice is in essence a quite simple metric. You take all media investments made by a brand and compare it to the total media investments made by competitor brands that you want to benchmark against. The idea is that a higher media investment means more eyeballs on your brand and therefore (given that your message is effective) a competitive advantage and a bigger market share.

This has worked very well and SoV as a metric has served marketers for a long time, but is it as relevant in the digital age as it was when TV, print and radio dominated the advertising landscape?

The problem with SoV today is that media purchasing is much more dynamic and less transparent. If you wanted to know how much your competitor invested in the old days, you could simply have someone monitor newspapers, TV, out-of-home and other traditional channels and calculate the value of those placements. Today, when digital marketing channels make up 60+ % of total marketing spend, monitoring competitors every media investment becomes significantly more difficult. Add to that non-transparent and variable pricing and the calculation becomes almost impossible.

Share of Search is a digital-first alternative

Share of Search (SoS) is born out of the digital marketing landscape and is perfectly suited to the modern marketing landscape to make up for (and more) the loss of SoV. Instead of focusing on media spend and the number of eyeballs on your marketing, Share of Search focuses on the popularity of branded search terms on Google.

The idea is that more searches for a brand means more effect from your marketing efforts and a stronger brand that will gain market shares. Share of Search doesn't necessarily correlate with Share of Voice, but one of the reasons for that is that Share of Search also has a quality component built into the metric. Millions of impressions does have value, but if you only see minor increases in traffic, interest, sales or conversions, then that value is small. With Share of Search, you can almost guarantee that increased brand searches compared to your competition will give you an advantage.

A dynamic duo?

Perhaps the best idea for most marketers is to use both Share of Voice and Share of Search in your reporting. Especially if you already use Share of Voice in your business. One of the main advantages to Share of Search is that it's so accessible. By simply using a tool like Branquo you can get your Share of Search report for free in just a few seconds. This means that you can quickly and easily validate your SoV to your SoS, and maybe even historical market share.

It's also important to note that Share of Search, like all metrics, isn't without it's flaws, and it's important to analyze and understand the results. As an example, Share of Search doesn't work well for all brands for a number of reasons (read more here) and an increased Share of Search doesn't necessarily mean a positive result as the metric doesn't tell you anything about the intent or background to the searches.