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Brand search volume vs. brand awareness vs. market share, here comes the Share of Search

5 minutes of reading time
Ján Laurenčík
Senior konzultant
The brand keywords search volume is one of my most favorite (online) marketing metrics.
Searching for a brand

Let me show you how we use this metric to optimize the digital marketing campaigns for our clients.

As a bonus you can use the branded keywords search volume of competitors over time to evaluate the brand awareness or brand interest.

Not only that! Les Binet lately revealed his research, which tells that Share of search can be used as a predictive measure for the market share.

“What we find is there is a dual relationship between the share of searches and share of market. Share of searches is a leading indicator for share of market…”

Les Binet, EffWorks Global 2020: Share of Search as a Predictive Measure

Brand search volume as the metric for campaign optimization

We use brand search volume over time as the metric for campaigns optimization, when

  • it is expected that the campaigns generate immediate or short-term demand (B2C, tourist attractions…) or
  • there is not possible to use more precise metric (the final conversion happens offline…).

In spring / summer 2020 season we launched the digital marketing campaigns for Slovak tourist attraction. Although the results were influenced by Covid-19 pandemics, they overcome the expectations.

We used the real-time brand keywords search volume data to analyze the impact of different approaches over time.

Screenshot from Google Data Studio report with the data from Google Search Console API

The data from Google My Business profile (which shows mainly on branded keywords) are also very useful. Especially when you have them real-time.

Screenshot from Google Data Studio report with the data from Google My Business

Brand search volume as the brand awareness indicator

The origin of my love for brand keywords search volume tracking binds to our long-term but not current client iClinic.

iClinic is the leading laser eye surgery clinic in Slovakia. The owner Mr. Ďurkovič is a true fanatic (in a positive sense). He loves ice-hockey, so he bought the so-so ice-hockey club in Slovakia. And won the title. Twice. Then he bought the football club. He got the club to the 1st league in 1 year. You would have to know him to totally understand me.

That time in 2018 he was crazy in chasing all the competitors. Although iClinic was the leader with the highest number of patients…

Mr. Ďurkovič, not only the amateur ice-hockey player but also the true laser eye surgeon, asked us to bid on all the competitor’s branded keywords in Google Search. He doesn’t give a sh*t that this tactic was pretty expensive (because of low Quality Score as you surely know). It ate a few thousands € per month. Surprisingly, the traffic from these campaigns brought quality leads with favorable cost per one.

That time I realized that when we take the number of ad impresssions targeted to specific competitor’s brand keywords and display it over time, we have the unique brand awareness survey. Even real-time.

The graph showing the brand keywords search volume of iClinic and its competitors with highlighted marketing activities which probably influenced the change of trend

It was not that hard to guess, which marketing activity of specific competitor caused the change of brand interest.

You don’t even need to push that hard as iClinic. If your Impression Share is lower than 100 %, you divide the specific search volume by the actual Impression Share.

Check out more details in the case study or watch the video (turn on English subtitles).
Case study: How to measure the awareness of iClinic and its competitors real-time? (turn on English subtitles)

Brand search volume as the brand market share indicator / predictor (Share of Search)

In the beginning of 2020 we evaluated the brand search volume of many store chains in Slovakia. The brands normally don’t use that kind of data.

You can use tools like Marketing Miner and / or Mangools to get brand keywords search volume data on a monthly basis for tens of €.

Average monthly brand search volume of petrol station brands in Slovakia

You can also easily spot some regional differences.

Average monthly brand search volume of petrol station brands in Bratislava

The big brands normally conduct the research to get the brand awareness / interest / consideration data. Les Binet, the marketing “A tier” celebrity, is skeptical about the research through questionnaires.

Ogilvy said: The trouble with research is that people don’t always do what they say, don’t say what they think and don’t think how they feel. Over the last 30 years or I’ve found that the relationship between tracking metrics and actual purchase behavior is often surprisingly weak. So for the last few years I’ve been looking at new ways to track brands. Based not on what people say but on what they do.

Les Binet, EffWorks Global 2020: Share of Search as a Predictive Measure

Yes, you guess right. Les Binet started to experiment with brand searches in Google.
EffWorks Global 2020: Share of Search as a Predictive Measure

If you sum the brand keyword searches in your category (of all competitors), you get something like the market size. Your portion of it is your Share of search.

Les Binet explaining the metric Share of searches

Share of search is according to Binet useful metric showing the relative brand interest and it stands between brand salience and brand consideration. It definitely has the correlation with the market share. But what is the hottest takeaway of Binet’s talk?

Share of search is a leading indicator of market share. What does it mean? The change in Share of search precedes the change in market share by months or quarters.

“Share of search is a leading indicator of market share.”

The brands can use the Share of search data to predict what will happen months in the future as an early warning system.

What will you do with the search volume data of your brand?

Do you think about how to protect your brand in search from scam and phishing?

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