Advertising Testing

It is critical for any company to develop the right communication strategy to raise consumers’ awareness and interest in their products or services. Market research can be employed to assess whether a communication campaign successfully sends the right message to its audience, and to assess its impact on consumers’ level of awareness and interest in the product/service.

While the purpose of an advertising campaign is of course to spur sales, it should be understood that there are many factors beyond an advertising campaign that can impact sales, both controllable (quality of the product/service, price, availability, quality of the customer experience while interacting with the company, etc.) and uncontrollable (shifts in competitors’ marketing strategies, macro-economic events, etc.). An advertising campaign should therefore not be judged based on any change in sales. Rather, it should be considered successful if it conveys the intended information correctly, it grabs their attention, it is credible, and it is motivating for an eventual interaction with the brand.

Advertising testing is typically conducted before (pre-test) and after (post-test) the advertising campaign in order to assess the impact of the campaign. The evaluation of the quality of the advertisement(s) would be conducted at the pre-test stage. This can be achieved in monadic (i.e. the advertisement is rated on its own) or in a comparative setting (compared to either alternative advertisements or to existing competitive advertisements). Both the pre-test and post-test surveys would include unaided brand recall, brand perceptions, and advertisement recall to observe any shift associated with the campaign. A successful advertising campaign can be measured by its reach within the intended audience, and the strength of the brand’s associations with the desired attitudes and behaviours.

The pre-test stage described above can be employed either in a qualitative or quantitative setting, with the understanding that a qualitative approach should be used if we are primarily interested in establishing a range of opinions and dig deeper into the underlying drivers of these opinions, while a quantitative approach should be used if we are interested in establishing the level of prevalence of these opinions to a population. The post-test stage, however, is most useful in a quantitative setting, and if a pre-test survey was run quantitatively to serve as benchmark against the post-test results.

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