Share of Voice: Quantifying Your Marketing Competition

Share of voice is how much weight your market takes up on a paid marketing channel compared to other advertisers. You’ll inevitably find your message competing for advertising space. Understanding this metric is vital to your outreach success.

You know you want to gauge how much of an impact your audio, written, or other ad content makes. Measuring share of voice is a smart way to get started. 

Is it time to rethink your approach to generating buzz? Even if you’re not too concerned about how you present your message, it may be wise to reconsider the way you analyze and build on the results.

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Why Is Share of Voice Important?

The reality of marketing is a shared one. Try as you might to distinguish your brand voice from your competition, your ads exist within a broader context. It doesn’t matter whether you’re speaking to consumers via radio or showing them your products and services in branded influencer social media posts. You only get so much screentime, airtime, or visibility. The rest goes to countless other brands striving to accomplish the same goals that you are.

A More Concrete Definition — and Some Challenges 

Your share of voice is the percentage of time, space, or visibility your ads get compared to what’s available in total. As an illustration, if a radio station plays ads for a given amount of time and each of the ten advertisers in the current lineup gets an equal slice of the pie, then you’d only have a 10 percent share of voice for that platform.

Of course, this is just a simplification, and it fails to account for some everyday advertising realities. For starters, your small business might not be able to afford quite as big of a voice share as your larger competitors can purchase. What’s more, advertisers don’t always make it easy to calculate where you stand in such a straightforward fashion.

For instance, you might advertise with a podcast, social media influencer, news site, or other purveyors of digital media for years without ever knowing what the big-picture breakdown looks like. Fortunately, you can overcome these uncertainties by paying closer attention to your marketing stats on a channel-by-channel basis.


How does share of voice differ by marketing channel? 

The distinctions between marketing channels make it imperative to calculate the share of voice in different ways depending on the advertising activity:

Radio, Podcasts, and other Audio-only Media

This one is the simplest. As with the previous example, your share of voice is just the amount of ad play you get compared to what’s available. To calculate it, just divide the total length of your played ads by the full length of all advertisements:

Audio Voice Share = (Number of times your ads played * Length of your ads per play) / (Number of all ads played * Length of all ads per play)

This formula might require you to manually go through a podcast or radio show to tally things up. It may seem like lots of work, but doing so at least once is worthwhile. Also, you can always fast-forward, so it’s not a huge commitment.

Running the numbers can reveal how effective a channel is. It also tells you what you’re really paying for when you advertise on a particular channel. Remember that even the most ear-catching ads aren’t going to go far if listeners are so overwhelmed by other content that they find it impossible to remember you. Viewing your content within the context of the surrounding ad landscape gives you the perspective to pick the ideal stance.

Search Engine Voice Share

Share of voice also applies in the twisting whirlpools of organic and paid search. The big problem is that Google is highly unlikely to toss you a life preserver by sharing its secret sauce. To find out how large your voice is, you’ll need to rely on existing metrics. A common alternative revolves around using SEO tools, many of which already provide share-of-voice widgets.

According to Brandwatch, organic search voice share typically corresponds to click-through rate, or CTR, for a given keyword. This makes sense because CTR is a percentage measurement — if you assume that the average per-keyword CTR is roughly equivalent for different types of SEO content or within specific fields, then CTR should correlate with voice share.

Organic Search Share of Voice = Your CTR / Total CTR

Again, this model only works for specific keywords. Although it’s just an ideal because CTR isn’t some rock-solid metric, the beauty of this calculation is that you can apply the same concept to a wide variety of advertising data, such as organic impressions, pay-per-click results, and other marketing domains.


Share of Voice or Share of Impressions?

Google’s impression share statistic tells how many impressions your ads receive compared to what they could have gotten in total. This makes impression share functionally equivalent to share of voice. Conveniently, it’s also easy to look it up from your AdWords dashboard. You will, however, need to make adjustments to your dashboard’s columns to reveal the stat, as detailed in this Google post.

Social Media

Share of voice on social media depends on more than just the advertiser ecosystem. The amount that other people talk about your brand is just as important as your self-promotional efforts. It’s up to you whether you take advantage of — or compete with — this user-generated content.

Use social media analysis tools to get a better grip on the conversation at large. Post-aggregating dashboards and listening applications can make it easier to get a clear view of how much talk revolves around you. Even better, these tools break things down by direct mentions, image posts, and hashtags.

Social Media Share of Topic

Share of topic is a similar term that quantifies brand mentions within — you guessed it — a particular conversation topic. Marketers commonly use this metric in conjunction with share of voice. For instance, your hardware company might monitor how much voice share it gets within the entire market by looking for brand mentions on social media. You could also monitor your share of a topic like “hardware stores” by measuring how many of those mentions occurred in conversations related to hardware stores.

Share of topic is crucial because it helps you extract more relevant, fine-grained data from your outreach analyses. It can also prove useful for identifying new, potentially lucrative avenues for advertising and brand positioning. Imagine that you discovered several social media users named your hardware store when they were discussing some other highly reviewed product you offer. You might leverage the existing public perception by mentioning those items specifically in your next voiceover ad

How Do I Capture More Voice Share?

Share of voice isn’t too useful unless you do something with it. For most marketers, that means working on getting more voice share. Increasing your share of voice enhances the likelihood that people will engage with your brand and transact, so this is definitely a wise strategy. Here are a few clever pointers for improving your voice share:

Create More Appealing Marketing Content

Better quality content is more memorable and more widely discussed. An entertaining radio commercial will play as much as a boring one that pays for the same ad time. Nonetheless, people will most likely recall the interesting one.

Most marketers inherently realize the value of publishing exciting content on social media. Figure out what differentiates your brand. Then, highlight those elements with written or audio content that delights or intrigues. Captivating audiences is a smart move in general, not just for improving share of voice.


Respond to People Who Engage

What do you do when someone publicly praises your brand or reviews your products favorably? If you’re smart, you’ll reach out to them to show your appreciation. Doing so isn’t just about cultivating a pleasantly gracious public image, however. Proactive response practices improve your share of voice by increasing the amount of dialog your brand generates. Whether it takes the form of comments, likes or mentions, any positive discussion is beneficial.

Responding is also critical for preventing voice share from becoming negative. For instance, if the social media scuttlebutt is dominated by people who have valid complaints about your business practices, then prospective customers will naturally develop doubts. If your consumers know that engaging with your brand might result in positive interactions based on how they’ve seen you interact with other users, then they’re more likely to discuss you — and increase your voice share organically.

Market Smarter, Not Harder

Increasing your marketing share by flooding the airwaves or social sphere with garbage isn’t a good idea. Publishing lousy content just makes your brand seem trashy. It’s also worth considering that some marketing channels simply might not be a good fit for your brand. Unless you refine your outreach practices to suit the audiences that frequent those domains, your message might miss its mark.

When trying to increase your share of voice, concentrate on channels that generate focused returns, and build from there. For instance, you could zero in on a particular social media platform or influencer to see how new ad content improves your voice share within their audience demographic segment. Some examples might include writing new audio ads to address demographic-specific product concerns or needs. Taking baby steps in controlled situations is usually far more realistic than generic goals like “going viral,” or “increasing coverage.”

Monitor the Results

Whether you use dashboards or internal metrics, paying attention to your share of voice is vital. You’ll never know whether you’re succeeding without before-and-after numbers. Make sure you — and your marketing team members — are well-equipped from the start. This principle is generally useful in the world of outreach, but it’s imperative with often-vague share of voice metrics.

The Final Word on Share of Voice

Although there are different ways to quantify it, calculating your share of voice is a wise way to learn how far your advertising expenditures really go. Ideally, your branding will someday traverse the bounds of its current marketing channels and audience segments, so why not equip it to go the distance? Understanding how loudly your message resonates could help you cultivate the kind of impact that makes outreach worthwhile.

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