Why share of search should be a metric you focus on

Tim Lawrence

Head of Strategy & Planning

"Google it"

From the moment Larry Page signed off an email “Have fun and keep googling!” in June 1998 'To Google’ became a verb that has ultimately defined the category, it has become so much part of our social lexicon that in 2006 it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Since then, the proliferation of smart devices means that search engines like Google have become an omnipresent connection between us and all the information in the world. ‘Googling’ has become second nature - as such search trend data is often used to represent zeitgeist or the mood of the nation. However, such has been the growth of paid search advertising, the advertising industry has focused on search as a short-term performance channel and under utilised it as a diagnostic tool. 

Now, much to digital agencies such as iCrossing’s delight, ad industry effectiveness heavyweight Les Binet has unveiled 6 years’ worth of research that shows share of search as a valuable measurement tool and an indicator of future share of market. Binet’s research, released with the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising and indicates that search trends are a fast, cheap and predictive way to measure both short and long term effects of advertising and brand awareness.  

Like the best digital data sources, search trend data is scaled, actual behaviour (i.e. not claimed) and near real time and best of all, free to access. The fact this data is so easy and cheap to access may be part of the reason brands have overlooked using it seriously.

Binet’s work adds credibility to the notion that the searches we make are a window into consumer awareness, providing an indicator of two proven growth drivers for brands; salience and distinctiveness. Understanding volumetric change in brand searches over time in relation to competitors and category can give a gauge of brand salience, whilst monitoring product descriptors such as ‘trusted’ or ‘cheap’, particularly in relation to your marketing, can indicate distinctiveness as well as the impact of communications.

At iCrossing we utilise search trend data in many ways; from its use in research and insight reports, informing content creation, understanding the impact of COVID-19 through bespoke dashboards for our clients. In light of Les Binet’s findings we recommend all brands utilise search data, creating dashboards to track volumes over time both of brand terms within category and understanding changes in associated terms, to assess and inform both brand and marketing performance.

Now that it has had its breakthrough moment, search data should become an important metric for your brand in 2021.

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