What is Share of Voice? How Does it Relate to PR Measurement and Evaluation?

Share of voice (SOV) is a term used by those measuring a brand’s profile. It determines the extent to which it is visible within a market.

Traditionally it has referred to a brand’s share of the paid advertising in its marketplace. However, growing access to digital data allows Share of Voice to be applied to many different aspects of a brand’s profile.

How to Calculate Share of Voice

What unites them all is the basic equation:

Your Brand Metric / Total Market Metric x 100 = Your Brand’s Share of Voice

However, with emerging, digital metrics the term Share of Voice can be a little misleading. Different techniques relate to very different aspects of the brand’s reach and show alternative aspects of a campaign’s impact.

Also, each have different strengths and weaknesses (as does any research method). These should be considered when viewing the results.

As these digital measurement and evaluation methods become more widespread, it is helpful to develop a more meaningful set of descriptors. These can better explain what the resulting data shows and its source.

Understanding Brand’s Share of Voice with Digital Data

Here are the terms we use in our own measurement and evaluation toolkit. We apply these when working with PR, marketing and leadership teams to reveal detailed insight into a brand’s Share of Voice.

Share of Search

This metric uses the volume of search queries for a brand as a proxy for brand awareness. The logic is that people searching for a specific product or service will actively Google brands that are front of mind for that market. It can be an effective way to gain insight into brand awareness over time. This includes retrospective analysis, which isn’t possible through traditional brand awareness surveys.

Share of Search requires careful application and users should be aware of its limitations and blind spots. For example, it is important to factor in common misspellings of brands to include all traffic (Nike is much easier to spell than adidas).

Also, analysis should factor in other reasons why brand searches might increase. This could be a prominent scandal or confusion with common words in other languages.

Share of Content or Conversation

This type of analysis shows how visible brands are within sectors, products or topics. It works by collecting all digital content or conversation for the main subject and then searching for brand mentions within the source data.

Share of Conversation can be a valuable tool for assessing the impact of specific campaigns or events. An increase in a brand’s share indicates that has managed to attract greater interest and attention. Further study of the language being used can indicate the sentiment or emotion within these audiences, or which brand attributes it supports.

Share of Content or Conversation can also look at the historical trends, easily going back up to ten years, to see how brand profile has changed over time or was influenced by past events.

However, care needs to be taken to check how this analysis is being conducted. Some approaches will simply count each mention as being equal. More sophisticated tools will actually weight each mention, assessing its likely audience reach and impact.

Imagine the difference between a brand mention on the site of a national newspaper or a school’s blog, or a social media post from Kim Kardashian compared to one from….well…the rest of us, and you can appreciate the importance of weighting the data.

Share of Click

Share of Click is a way to assess the commercial impact of a brand’s profile. It takes the same principle as Share of Content but applies it across multiple ‘buying terms’. In other words, the range of search terms consumers looking for your products or services might use.

It then assesses, each brand’s share of profile within the most visible results for each term. By weighting the positioning, prominence and content or each mention, it can then estimate the likely impact on all the potential consumers seeking out that content. In other words, how likely are they to click and buy.

Take the example of a tent retailer. The terms might include; cheapest tent, best family tent, tent for a festival, weather-proof tent etc. etc.

Knowing the search volumes for such terms and your prominence (and sentiment) within the content shoppers are seeing, gives a strong indication of how your profile is supporting sales compared to your competitors.

Also, understanding which earned media and types of content (e.g. how to… videos or product tests) typically perform best in reaching these eager shoppers, can help shape your priority media targets and content strategy.

Learn More about Share of Voice Using Digital Data

As you can see the potential insights from this data are huge, but so is the potential for confusion if we stick to Share of Voice as a catch all term.

If you’d like to learn more, fill in our contact form and leave a message. You can also view our recent guide entitled Beyond Share of Search, produced with the PRCA Innovation Forum.

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Steve Leigh
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