Share of Search is emerging as a proxy for Share of Market – but when combined with other data and utilising simple analysis techniques, it can also become a powerful addition to understanding the dynamics in a category and the behaviour of the players in it.

Strategist James Hankins has previously outlined how Google Trends data can be used to calculate an inexpensive proxy for market share; in a new paper for WARC, he takes this a stage further, developing a set of strategic diagnostic tools to allow for contextual analysis of a category and the brands that play within it.

“These tools use a combination of proven relationships plus a new data source and new techniques to enhance businesses’ and brands’ capabilities to ‘gear for growth’ and maximise the chances that their strategy will be a success,” he states.

Hankins is at pains to stress that Share of Search (SOS) is a proxy for Share of Market (SOM) and not a replacement – “and it’s certainly not Share of Voice (SOV)”.

Where the SOV vs SOM relationship tends to be used in a static form as a budget setting device, he maintains that SOS can move marketers beyond such a granular approach. “It’s about trajectories and trends, hypotheses and insight, category dynamics and analysis.”

For example, he converts spend data into an SOV MAT (Moving Annual Total) to match the 12-month rolling average that is a key element of SOS as a SOM proxy) and then compares the two to create an ESOV figure that has a mid-to-long-term view.

“I believe this is a powerful technique when critiqued and combined appropriately,” he says. “Charting this data over time, at a brand level, to show how ESOV (Excess Share of Voice) versus SOS shifts is a key visualisation of how that brand has utilised its advertising spend and whether it is aligned with shifts in share.”

By plotting ESOV and SOS over time, says Hankins, one can “paint a picture of trajectory”.

For more details, read James Hankins’ article in full: Are you geared for growth? How to apply Share of Search as a strategic diagnostic.

Sourced from WARC