Today’s digital marketer has hundreds of tools to better understand consumer behavior – from what pages they’ve visited to the journey it takes them to reach the check-out page. But one thing they can’t do is analyze these behaviors at a macro level to understand market trends and correlate them to ROI. For many marketers, getting access to this information often means spending thousands or even millions of dollars on expensive market research firms to capture this data.

You may have heard of “share of voice” as a measure of how brands compare to their competitors, and how to gauge brand visibility and authority among prospective customers. However, what share of voice won’t tell you is why people prefer your brand to competitors, or why not. In an increasingly digital world, a new metric has emerged as a more accurate measurement of consumer and business purchasing intent and demand for products: Share of Search.

What Is Share of Search?

To calculate a brand’s Share of Search, you can take the number of organic searches your brand received during a specific period, and divide it by the number of searches all the brands in your industry received at that time. The Institute of Practising Advertisers (IPA) spent over a decade researching marketing effectiveness in over 30 case studies, in 12 different markets across seven countries, and found that with technology making it easier to determine consumers’ intentions when deciding what to purchase or how to engage with brands, the power of search could be leveraged as a business forecasting metric. All the tools you need to understand peoples’ thoughts and intentions now fit in your own pocket; if you can think of it, it is likely that you’ll search for it. IPA research found that what people search for strongly correlates with consumer behavior, not just for short term success but as a way to measure long-term engagement with specific market categories, trends and brands.

How Share of Search Helps Marketers

While many tools exist to measure marketing effectiveness for short-term sales and ROI, historically it has been difficult to measure how this short-term success actually translates into long-term brand loyalty. Share of Search resolves this massive issue that exists in advertising and marketing, which is that it creates a universal metric that measures the impact of media and advertising on purchasing and decision intent. Research done by the IPA found that Share of Search acted as a strong proxy for the consumer demand side of market share, and that Share of Search is dynamic; when one changes, the other changes. Additionally, when brand sentiment is measured alongside share of search, it creates a complete picture of what the future might look like in terms of how a brand might stack up against their competitors. This means that no matter the industry, brands can accurately measure the trends of the market using real-time data to predict consumer buying behavior. By analyzing this data, marketers can get a better idea of how their investments in marketing campaigns might play out over time. This benefits all aspects of advertising from understanding trends that might affect creative decisions to helping media buyers understand how much money they may want to invest in their campaigns to achieve ROI and increase their share of the market in the long run. Rodrigo Pozo Graviz is CEO and founder of My Telescope