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Share of Search 2.0

James Hankins shared further research into Share of Search at the EffWorks Conference. The original study (that involved Les Binet) was extended and the link deepened between change in Share of Search and change in Market Share

Last year’s study was limited to the automotive, telco and energy categories – so this year’s analysis provides a valuable addition. Further extensions veer dangerously close to the limitations of Share of Search data, however. 

A Complement not a Substitute 

Share of Search (and an advertiser’s Brand Search volume in isolation) are intuitive, fully democratised measures of effectiveness. They are a powerful part of the business case for marketing – but not the whole story. 

The value of Share of Search as a metric is derived from its role as a bridging metric between Share of Voice and Share of Market, where the effectiveness literature is much deeper. These metrics remain ferociously difficult to measure, however. In an age of much more tightly targeted advertising, Share of Voice has become almost impossible to measure on a cross-channel basis. However, as the acquisition channels of the typical brand have fragmented, and recurring revenue business models have proliferated, Share of Market measurement remains an equally challenging task. 

The Business Case for Marketing Must be Made in £ Sterling 

As such it is difficult to reverse engineer an investment plan or a credible share of market prediction from Share of Search analysis. As marketers we talk as far as possible in the language of pounds, shillings and pence in order to build credibility. And Share of Search is simply not a plausible metric upon which to structure an investment case. 


Though the research has been extended, there are still categories where the measure is inappropriate. Google Search covers a large share of commerce discovery but, increasingly, search is occurring outside of this net – with Amazon and Facebook platforms representing major primary touchpoints in the CPG and Fashion industries respectively. 

Google Trends data is also sampled and rounded, undermining any attempts to attribute gains and losses back to specific marketing levers. With the sampling also undermining the sincerity of week-to-week or month-to-month shifts. 

SoS does offer a powerful perspective on longitudinal marketing effectiveness and lowers the cost of measuring mental availability for brands. But it must be used as part of a holistic measurement framework as it represents a weak commercial case for marketing in isolation.