Is share of search a worthy alternative to share of voice online?

by Simamkele Matuntuta
Thu, 14/01/2021 - 11:11

In just a matter of years, the number of metrics brands need to track have significantly increased, much to the despair of digital marketers. It can become a bit overwhelming to manage, the consistent tracking of traffic, conversions, ad-generated ROIs, brand awareness, and social media metrics, among others. Moreso against brands you’re competing with. 

And, that’s where share of search (SOS) becomes an interesting metric to consider. Let’s unpack the reasons behind that assertion and how it fares when compared to share of voice (SOV). 

But first, what is share of voice

Share of voice is a metric that’s been used for decades to measure the market share your brand owns in comparison to your competitors. In the past, it only measured a brand’s share in the overall advertising market. However, the growth of digital resources brought a huge shift in share of voice meaning or what share of voice measures.

Nowadays, it calculates the number of times your brand is mentioned online vs the number of times your competitors are mentioned. And, because it covers elements such as brand awareness, brand visibility, organic search, paid media advertising, social media, voice search and overall customer engagement, it gives you a better understanding of where your brand is positioned in the market. This, in turn, can give you valuable intel on how your product and service offering is performing and how to improve to grab your seat as a leader in the market.

There are various share of voice tools available online that you can use when you want to learn how to calculate share of voice for your business.

Now, what’s share of search

Although using the same principle as share of voice, share of search metric tracks how many searches your brand generates within a specific category. 

In this Marketing Week article, Mark Riston explains that there is a potential for a positive impact with share of search if we use the same idea of excess share of voice (ESOV) and call it excess share of search (ESOS). This refers to a point where a brand’s share of voice exceeds its market share. “Your brand has a 15% market share but enjoyed 30% of the total search frequency last month. Congratulations, you have +15 ESOS and we know that translates into X% of market share growth in your category per year,” explains Riston.

He further explains that ESOS would be key in working out exactly which brands are in competition with each other for specific categories – an insight that could be useful for your future business decisions. Put simply, knowing which brands you’re in competition with and getting data on where you are positioned against them in specific categories, as well as learning what it is that they’re doing, could help your search marketing agency come up with better strategies to place you at the top of the competition board. 

Worthy alternative?

The challenge is that share of voice has become a bit harder to estimate. With many media formats being bought on audience or impressions and not placement, it’s difficult to measure exactly how many people have seen it. 

As Shann Biglione argues in this article, share of voice is a measure of input. On the other hand, share of search is a measure of the outcome. “It’s a thermometer, and you can’t really use it to turn up the heat. You can decide to change your share of voice immediately, but your share of search is not something you directly control.”

So, until such a time when more variations and alternatives become available, as a performance marketing agency that offers specialist SEO services, we say it’s worth using both metrics and not one over the other. 

At Rogerwilco, we've developed a share of search module within WOLF – our own multi-award-winning competitor visibility tool. If you'd like us to run a share of search audit and provide you with regular insights on changes in consumer interests in your organisation, reach out to us.

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