Determining Industry Seasonality

By Jeff Campbell, VP Product Development

In yesterday's post, we explored step 1 of determining seasonality for forecast planning by looking at data about website it's time to venture out and use a broader lens for the entire industry.

After determining your website's seasonality, you have to determine how closely the websites emulates the industry as a whole. Total industry search volume will provide a more accurate view of opportunities as this website probably didn’t get every impression or click possible. To determine the total universe of clicks, there are two routes to go down: get the info from the engines directly and/or use directional industry research tools like Hitwise, Nielson NetRatings, or ComScore.

Start with running month-by-month ComScore Share of Voice (SOV) reports. Then, using your client data from the previous step, roughly extrapolate for the total paid search market. For example, I know my client,, spent $40k this month and received 70k clicks. Using the below report, I can roughly judge the size of the historical market knowing that was only 10% of the full picture. You can also view the report by engine.


(Click for full image)

Keep in mind that spending double doesn’t necessarily get you double the clicks (and vice-versa). Depending on how data-savvy you want to get, consider a quick model that shows CPC increases with rank increases in your industry extrapolations.

As for getting the volume data directly from the search engines, only Microsoft, via AdIntelligence, shares that data openly. Directional industry information is typically available upon request from Google and Y!. Based on the latest share of searches, you can roughly extrapolate on these numbers as well. A sample AdIntelligence report is below, showing both past month “actuals” with three months of projections (click for full image):


Google Trends and Yahoo! Buzz are two additional tools to view seasonality trends by keyword and how search traffic can be affected by news events.


In summary, determining client and industry seasonality trends is the second key step after determining purchase latency in order to provide a proper client forecast estimates. I’ve only scratched the surface on determining seasonality, but it should provide good direction to get started. Bottom line, if you are only looking at historic client data to determine the future, you are missing a big part of the picture.


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