Share of Search

Could it be 2021’s must-have metric?

The Blogfather emerges from the shadows to get stuck into Share of Search and the work and views of marketing’s best, including Les Binet and Mark Ritson, before telling tale of how he went full ahead both engines into Bitcoin, off the back of an advert he saw on the Tube.

It’s the time of year where marketing peeps’ inboxes are sprinkled with webinar invites from the usual suspects to hear about the important trends of 2021. The back end of 2020 saw a fair bit of momentum building behind something that could well prove to be massive in 2021, so much so that the mouthy yet mighty Mark Ritson stated it, “looks like becoming one of the most exciting and useful marketing metrics of the near future.”

So, what are we talking about? Share of Search.

Now, the Blogfather has had his fair share of searches over the years, be they of orifices, offices or otherwise, so the word ‘search’ sends a little shudder down the spine.

Search Me GIF
You can gather up data on both your brand and all your competitors to track the relative levels of interest in your brand, in a measure that Binet envisages sitting somewhere between brand salience and consideration.

But after shaking that off, there does seem to be something significant and potentially highly useful in this.

A small but very talented gang of marketers have been working independently on this, most notably Les Binet, James Hankins and Dr. Grace Kite. It is certainly not a short term, shiny buzzword fad; James Hankins has been working on this for over 6 years, whilst for Les Binet it is a natural extension and exploration of his many years of work on Share of Voice.

To explain more we need to dive into Google. As most marketers know, Google is a rich source of data on what people are intending to do, what they think and what they buy.

For Share of Search, we are not talking about paid search adverts, this new metric is share of organic Google search queries for a brand.

Anyone can access data for free from Google Trends, a data set going back to 2004 and which has a high frequency. You can gather up data on both your brand and all your competitors to track the relative levels of interest in your brand, in a measure that Binet envisages sitting somewhere between brand salience and consideration, and that ultimately can be a leading indicator of market share.

If you have a spare 30 mins check out Les Binet giving this talk for Effworks for formulas and a more thorough overview.

The frequency (weekly) of this data could also be a huge help to marketers.

Professor Ritson outlined the benefits of Share of Search over Share of Voice in a recent blog.

Because Share of Search is further down the funnel, it should be more predictive than Share of Voice. It also removes the difficult challenge of working out who should be included in the competitor comparisons. The frequency (weekly) of this data could also be a huge help to marketers. And, finally but maybe most importantly, search seems to be a far more universal assessment tool than the amount spent on advertising. The data for Share of Search would be just as relevant to sectors where standard advertising is less important, for example B2B markets.

So, as James Hankins’ seminal WARC report on the subject says; this could be the most important metric you’ve never heard of (well, until now). You should check out his blog, as James gives step-by-step guidance on how you can also work out your own Share of Search via some nifty Excel work.

So why does it matter? As James states in his WARC report summary:

“Share of search provides a useful metric that any marketer can use as a surprisingly accurate proxy for the important, but often expensive, calculation of a brand’s market share.”

Furthermore:

“Bigger brands typically drive greater levels of search. The share of search analysis holds true across multiple categories, different business sizes, and for B2B and B2C brands.”

The full report is available if you have a few spare quid, behind a paywall. Or, if you were crafty like The Blogfather, you would have raided WARC’s rich annals, all for gratis, on their 28th January open day. You want reports? I’ve got reports. Talk to me after.*

The work and thoughts of Dr. Grace Kite goes further, seeing even more value in using search data for marketing intel beyond predictive and indicative share of market:

“When people search, they type in what they want or need, and often, what they’re willing to pay for. The data that those searches generate builds to nothing less than a full and detailed description of what economists call demand, or in other words, what it’s possible to sell.
This means that search data is a gold mine for marketing strategy. It reveals which types of product are most in demand and which aspects of them are most important to consumers. It can inform on how to position a brand for growth and even what words and tone will work best in creative executions.”

All this talk of marketing and advertising effectiveness brings us nicely onto the reason why The Blogfather has been somewhat AWOL recently; I’ve got massively into Bitcoin.

Why, you ask? Well, it looks like cash is no longer king, for a kick off, but it was also off the back of seeing this advert.

Bit Coin Tube Ad
Luno is evidently aware of this problematic image, cleverly positioned against it and has knowingly taken Bitcoin out of the email junk folder and into traditional mass advertising.

It’s not often a print ad catches my eye (not least as there is a dearth of them now, what with the pandemic rendering rows of ad spaces empty), but I suppose we can class this advert as a self-aware signalling advert.

Now, say ‘Bitcoin’ to me and my immediate response is: ‘junk email subject headers’ and ‘dodgy’. Luno is evidently aware of this problematic image, cleverly positioned against it and has knowingly taken Bitcoin out of the email junk folder and into traditional mass advertising.

From the consumer’s point of view, why and how could anything that is not legit and trustworthy spread its peacock-like expensive advertising budget plumage across the entire TFL network?

Anyway, the upshot is that I have promptly, entirely and wisely put all my money into Bitcoin, diverting funds from my off shore personal bank account. Who I bank with will remain nameless, but suffice to say it rhymes with ‘Shat Best’. This move was in part prompted by receiving one cloying “we’re here for you in these testing times” email too many. Idiots.

If you want to learn a bit more on Signalling, we’ve blogged on it before, and make sure to start following Richard ‘The Signalman’ Shotton on Twitter (that’s our nickname for him. He doesn’t announce himself at soirees with that moniker. More’s the pity).

*I don’t actually have any black-market reports for you to buy, as that would be naughty.

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