We all know the power of advertising. It can teach, sway, announce. It relays information about a company’s product or service and can raise awareness for its brand(s). Hopefully, it will promote sales. Advertisers, in their quest to capture valuable market share for their clients, often use flashy graphics or catchy audio bites in the hopes of generating positive emotional responses from people and securing public attention. But how do they know if they are doing a good job? Advertising testing is a critical part of the advertisement life cycle. It helps direct future marketing campaigns by identifying and correcting past problems. It even helps predict success by pointing out the correct method of delivery for the advertisement, something that has been positively correlated with a message’s ability to reach consumers and make an impact.
Today’s technologies are making advertising testing more productive than it’s ever been. They’ve allowed us to move from static and reactive endeavors – like manually counting the number of coupons used and examining sales numbers in areas where advertising exists – to more highly complex and nuanced approaches enabled by artificial intelligence (AI), automation, buzz metrics, social media monitoring and neuroscience measures, among others.
Take, for instance, the ways in which “concept testing” strategies are now being impacted by burgeoning technologies. Concept testing is often a first step meant to uncover how consumers feel about proposed advertising before it officially hits the public. Multiple ad versions are delivered to respondents in focus groups or other types of interviews. With the Internet, researchers can gather people in a virtual environment to test their ideas rather than wait for the opportunity to amass them in a physical location. It’s also easier to facilitate the subtlety and anonymity needed to evaluate various concepts when you are able to hide those concepts in an online format, rearranging their order and tweaking details virtually instead of in person where it’s more likely to be noticed.
For the more quantitative “copy testing” techniques that follow concept testing and measure recognition and recall of an advertisement as predictors of sales, changing technologies of the 20th and 21st centuries have also produced a profound effect. The venerable television commercial is now only one of a host of communication vehicles. Nowadays, consumers are inundated with options to view ad messages on mobile devices and the Internet. They are also flipping channels, watching pre-recorded shows and fast-forwarding through commercials altogether. They might even be watching a second program on another screen or while surfing the Internet.
This means that advertising testing can’t rely on the premise that immediate recognition and recall of an advertisement within a controlled setting will translate the same in the real world. A consumer’s attention is very divided in today’s society and to get the numbers to back up assumptions on what will work and what won’t for an ad campaign, researchers must make use of new technologies. They must use things like buzz metrics (those online clicks mentioning, linking to or interacting in some other way with an advert) and automation and AI, which help marketers collect, record and analyze massive amounts of data in order to better predict consumer wants and needs. They must monitor social media to gauge consumer behavior and track an ad’s impact on the market in real-time. Of course, vastly improved neuroscience measures such as EEGs, facial coding, core biometrics, eye tracking and implicit response testing (IRT) can also identify what does and does not resonate with consumers.
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Advertising testing is a multifaceted endeavor that is impacted by personal preferences and can be better measured by technology as it continues to evolve in the 21st century. Communications for Research (CFR) has over 20 years experiences helping companies evaluate the market. We keep abreast of changing techniques, methodologies and resources. Contact us to learn how we can help you improve your business in 2018.
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