Qrious Insight

Brand Tracking 101: A Comprehensive Guide to Tools, Studies, and Software

What is brand tracking?

Brand tracking is a specialized technique for monitoring the health of your brand through examining how consumers buy and use your products, and what they think and feel about the brand itself. Using brand tracking tools and studies you can identify successful brand initiatives that positively impact sales, as well as those that are not achieving desired results. This enables you to measure performance over time and make informed decisions that improve sales, optimize marketing ROI, and increase market share.

How do you conduct a brand tracking study?

Management guru Peter Drucker once said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. Brand tracking allows you to do exactly that – measure your marketing impact and manage it. These studies collect data needed by marketing teams to measure their influence on both consumers and businesses and decide how to improve their KPIs.

The marketing research industry was born on the idea that brands and advertising needed to be measured to understand how effective they are. In the early 1920’s this was done by intercepting people on the street and asking them if they remembered seeing or hearing anything about the brand. While today, most brand measurement has evolved to online surveys, the process of asking consumers to recall questions is still the vast majority of the way measurement occurs. Less popular methods that some are adopting include sentiment analysis through social listening tools and web analytics tools like Google Analytics.

But with all the technology and data that exists today, brand measurement should start with the data that already exists – real, actual consumer behaviors, and deterministic behavioral data. This approach paired with a survey provides a robust measurement for brand and advertising tracking and overcomes many of the shortfallings of survey research alone and provides brands with a clearer, and truer understanding of consumer interactions and intentions.

Why you need more than tracking surveys to improve your brand tracker

Brand tracking studies frequently rely on consumer surveys that are often lengthy and inflexible. Traditional survey methods can provide some insight into your brand efforts, but surveys alone are not the most accurate way to fully understand how your brand is performing. While good for certain types of research, they have many shortcomings.

Surveys can lead to bad quality:

Survey takers suffer from recall bias. Although people tend to feel that they can accurately remember how things were in the past, they actually forget most of the details as time goes on, and recalling what specifically they did or what they saw can be really hard to accurately do. Surveys are great for asking people what they think and feel in the moment – not for recalling behaviors that they might not remember all the details.

Surveys can over-inflate future intentions:

In survey questions we often ask consumers to recall what they will do in the future. This measure is often hypothetical and will depend on the actual situation when it comes time to make a decision which can include things like if the product is in stock, if the product is where they are typically shopping, if they are fully aware of all the competitive offerings, if the price value meets their needs in that moment and more.

Surveys should only collect attitudinal data:

Survey respondents are not robots – they can’t tell you exactly when someone engaged with your brand or what specifically they were exposed to, or what their ad click-through rate is, or how their journey led them to your website. Surveys are most effective for collecting attitudinal data, which represents the thoughts and feelings of users rather than their behavior. Surveys involve taking respondents out of their regular activities and asking them to think about their experiences and behaviors instead of directly demonstrating them.

For example, even if a survey asks users how often they tend to access a particular feature on a website, it is really asking them how often they think they access that feature. Questions about behaviors do not accurately capture how people actually perform those behaviors; instead, they reveal users’ perceptions and recollections about those behaviors. Use surveys to learn what users think and feel, not to recall what they do.

It’s hard to target the right people:

With surveys, you often have to rely on a multitude of screener questions to make sure you are targeting the right people relevant to you. Even at that, survey fraud is on the rise, with a study showing nearly half of respondents from the world’s largest survey panels are fraudulent. You can’t even be reassured that people are not lying to you in order to earn their incentive from the survey, which can seriously impact the data you are using for your strategic decisions.

When you think about it, that leaves only the perceptual elements of a brand tracker as suitable for survey research. Behavioral and performance metrics need a better way of being measured. Even at that, to target the right people for your perceptual questions – you need to be reassured you are reaching people who actually exhibit the behaviors you are looking for – targeting them by what they do – not what they say they do.

Behavioral data is the next evolution in brand tracking:

The next generation of brand trackers incorporates behavioral data to address these shortcomings, resulting in deeper insights. This approach goes beyond traditional survey data, adding a layer of real-world actionable insights into consumer actions. From tracking website visits and app usage to location-based interactions, behavioral data complements your existing survey metrics (and replaces some) to provide a comprehensive, ground-truth view of your audience. This dual-data approach enables more accurate assessments and, consequently, smarter business decisions.

Higher quality and more comprehensive data:

To address the limitations of traditional surveys, behavioral data serves as an indispensable complement. It bypasses the challenges of recall bias by capturing real-time, deterministic information about consumer actions like ad exposures, click-through rates, and app usage. This increased visibility into how consumers engage with your brand and your offerings unlocks even more insights – such as how your brand’s metrics compare against competitors and how they are arriving at their performance.

Better respondent targeting:

This data not only provides a more comprehensive view of consumer behavior, but also ensures precise audience targeting. By relying on actual interactions rather than self-reported experiences, you mitigate the risks of receiving survey responses from people who are not part of your target and don’t engage in the category.

Shorter surveys:

With behavioral data you no longer need to fit endless numbers of questions into your surveys. You can limit your questions to the areas that surveys are suited to – such as gathering data on consumer perceptions – and leave the rest to the behavioral data. Not only does behavioral data provide your brand engagement metrics, it also can be indicative of who a person is – revealing their hobbies, their passions, and where they are spending their time. This means surveys will become shorter, and the quality of the responses better. The more questions you include in a survey, the less time respondents spend on each question, and the more your data quality suffers.

brand tracking time per survey question plotted as a table


brand tracking survey response time graph

In essence, behavioral data fills the gaps that surveys can’t, enriching both the perceptual and performance aspects of your brand tracking efforts.

What metrics should a brand tracking program measure?

Brand tracking metrics can be broadly broken down into three main categories: Perceptual, Behavioral, and Business Performance. Each category should be explored when you determine your key brand tracking metrics.

Perceptual (what the target market thinks)

These metrics should be gathered through a short survey.

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness measures how familiar customers are with your brand. By evaluating KPIs like top-of-mind awareness, and brand recognition, you assess how familiar consumers are with your brand.

Brand Associations

Brand associations refer to the ideas, feelings, and experiences that customers attach to a particular brand. They can be derived from both tangible elements (such as product features and customer service) and intangible elements (such as brand values, slogans, and logos). Brand associations help companies develop an understanding of how customers perceive their brand in order to create or enhance a positive brand image.

Brand Intent

Brand intent sits further along the customer journey, and measures whether a target customer would consider your brand and whether they would prefer your brand over a competitor’s. Both consideration and preference are typically measured as a percentage of the population that considers and prefers your brand.

Brand Experience

Brand experience refers to how much the target market likes/dislikes your brand and includes measures such as NPS, customer satisfaction, customer effort, consumer sentiment, and net trust. Brand experience is an important factor in building loyalty, word of mouth, and trust among customers.

Behavioral (what the target market is doing)

These metrics should be obtained through actual deterministic behavioral data – not asking through a survey.


Brand engagement looks beyond purchase and measures how customers are interacting with your brand properties. This metric captures online behaviors such as ad click-through rates, searches that include your brand name, frequency of visiting your website and opening your apps, and time spent on your website or apps, providing a multi-faceted view of how your audience engages with your brand.


This measure assesses the conversion rate and spending behavior of your target market for your product or service. Purchase metrics can include factors such as purchase value, conversion rates, purchase frequency, and other relevant trends.

Company (How are we performing)

These metrics should be obtained through internal company information.

Company performance metrics are the materialization of all of the brand efforts (and previously mentioned metrics) on the bottom line. These metrics can include your market share, customer lifetime value, and total sales volumes and revenues.

The benefits of behavioral brand trackers?

There are many benefits to brand tracking studies, but a behavioral-first Qrious brand tracker provides many additional benefits.

Customer Centricity:

Brand tracking helps gather customer feedback and understand their needs and wants. This information can directly influence your product, price, placement, and promotion strategies. Learning what resonates with your customers can lead to long-term growth and continued customer loyalty. Finding these valuable insights should not be limited to a quarterly study, but available constantly through always-on behavioral data.

Real-Time Insights:

Many companies conduct brand tracking studies only on a monthly, quarterly, or even annual basis. However, if you are running advertising campaigns more frequently, it is recommended to increase the frequency of measurement to assess the specific initiatives’ impact on your brand. With the right consumer intelligence solution – you can get real-time customer insights and consumer behaviors 24/7 – enabling you to iterate faster than your competition.

Marketing Attribution:

It can be difficult to attribute conversions or sales to the success of brand marketing efforts, particularly awareness campaigns, even though brand perception certainly plays a role in moving consumers down the sales funnel. Brand trackers, when they adopt the right methods, solve this exact problem.2

For example, if a brand is running an awareness campaign, a brand tracker can correlate increases in web or app engagement with the campaign launch. Even more, with location data, a brand can see if an outdoor advertising campaign is actually leading to more foot traffic in their retail stores. This gives a more holistic understanding of the entire consumer journey, helping to attribute specific touchpoints to eventual conversions or sales.

By utilizing behavioral data, brand tracking evolves from a traditionally reactive tool to a proactive solution that guides decision-making in real-time. This enables brands to pivot effectively, seize opportunities as they arise, abandon ineffective strategies before they consume more resources and make informed business decisions.

Optimizing Ad Placement and Budgets:

Tracking brand perception and campaign performance among target audiences can help marketers determine which channels, influencers, and value propositions to prioritize for the highest returns. With behavioral data, you can understand where your audience actually spends their time and how they interact with your brand and others. This live, actionable data enables marketers to allocate their budgets more precisely and select ad placements that are genuinely effective.

For example, web data can show which platforms or websites are driving the most traffic to your site, while app data could reveal which in-app advertisements are most engaging. This information empowers you to allocate your budget where it will produce the highest return on investment, whether that’s in online channels, physical locations, or a blend of both.

Tracking and Analyzing Competitors:

Brand trackers can assist competitor analysis and illuminate competitor brands’ strengths and weaknesses (e.g., which buyer groups they have locked in). For instance, if a competitor launches a new online campaign, competitor tracking through behavioral web and app data can show how consumers are reacting to it. Are they visiting the competitor’s website more frequently? Are a brand’s locations receiving more footfall? Are they downloading their app? And if so, what features are they using?

These insights give you the ability to dissect your competitor’s strategy at a microscopic level and pivot your own marketing efforts accordingly. Competitive analysis can be conducted instantly and enable you to make quick changes to gain a competitive edge. Follow-up surveys can be targeted at these people to understand the why behind their actions and identify differences in perceptions that these campaigns are responsible for.

Testing Strategies:

Brand tracking can give you clues on what actions you should take to improve your performance. However, you will never really know what strategies will work until you try them in the market. Brand tracking allows you to see what product, marketing, and overall strategic changes are having an impact. Learning faster than the competition is the ultimate competitive advantage, and quarterly surveys often are not quick enough to provide the feedback needed to iterate in the market. Companies need a solution that provides them with real-time accurate information on what their target market is doing and allows them to continuously sample them for information and metrics over time.

With continuous behavioral data, you can identify who has seen your ad placements or campaigns in real time and assess how their behavior is changing on the go. You no longer must wait until you feel like your campaign has gotten enough awareness before launching a survey to measure impact – you can assess exposure and target consumers you know for sure have received your stimulus.

Measuring Company Performance:

The ultimate goal of brand tracking is to help marketers understand which marketing activities are working and how they have impacted sales, as well as identify the efforts that are not, and how they can be optimized to perform better. Using surveys to analyze things like market share is a surefire way to get inaccurate data that is often outdated by the time it arrives at your desk. With behavioral data, you can get a real-time feed of what percentage of the market is engaged with your offering, versus that of your competitors, based on actual observed behavior rather than what people said they did a month ago.

Qrious Insight’s Brand-Tracking Capabilities

Qrious Insight is pioneering the next generation of brand trackers with our consumer intelligence solution – combining behavioral and survey data. Leveraging survey, web, app, and location data, our brand tracking program offers a nuanced understanding of any audience you want to study. Our easy-to-navigate interface allows you to assess key metrics and marketing strategies and make real-time adjustments, giving you the tools to tailor your marketing and brand strategies effectively. Marketers can examine how consumers are behaving across their products and services, and their competitors, from our consumer intelligence network of over 100,000 consumers. See how the best companies are improving their marketing campaigns and making data-driven decisions with real-time insights from our behavioral network.

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