During the 2018 Super Bowl, a 30-second ad cost an advertiser $5 million, which was five times as much as MVP Quarterback Nick Foles made all season. (After that famous catch, he got a raise). Ads are expensive, they’re everywhere, and advertisers aren’t planning on slowing down anytime soon.

And while it’s probably a matter of personal opinion, the Amazon Alexa ad might have been the best of Super Bowl Bowl LII.

According to Statista, in 2018, global advertising on all mediums is expected to hit $630.59 billion. Done well, ads break through the noise, spark conversations about your brand, drive demand, and boost sales. Done poorly, ads bury your messages, damage your brand image, fail to generate revenue, and waste budget on expensive campaigns that fail to deliver. With so much on the line, getting your ads right is crucial. How do you ensure success? Ad testing.

The 4 steps to ad effective testing

Research from Millward Brown found that consistent pre-testing improves an ad’s effectiveness by at least 20 percent. Ad testing allows you to predict the effect on purchase intent, get the highest ROI from your ad spend, and understand how your brand is perceived. Below are four steps to effective ad testing.

1. Develop evocative ads

Ads should be visually interesting, focus on what makes your brand different, and provide a clear call-to-action. Use your market research to understand what your target audience values and what drives them. You should never assume you know your target market and you want to ensure that your consumers can identify your ad with your brand.

2. Choose your ad test methodology

There are several different ways to test your ads. Two of the most common methods are the single ad test (monadic) and the multiple ad test (sequential monadic). Monadic simply means testing a single ad (or part of an ad) in isolation. If you were to evaluate five different ads, you would have a single test for each ad.

3. Design and field your study

Your ad testing study will give you data on both overall impressions of your ad and evaluate your ad against certain criteria including:

  • Initial reaction
  • Appeal
  • Believability
  • Relevance
  • Clarity
  • Likelihood to buy

Your survey should always end with an open-ended question to capture insights not included in the survey. This will give you additional color on what is working or not working with your ad.

4. Identify the best ad

Ad reports can be broken down into two categories: overall results and individual results. Overall results will give you a clear comparison of how each ad (or part of an ad) performed, specifically around initial reaction, believability, and likelihood to buy. Individual results see how each ad tested on each of your evaluation criteria.

Advertising is an expensive, yet crucial component of sales, and getting it right matters. Done right, ad testing gives you more effective ads, helps preserve your advertising budget, and has a tangible impact on profit. By testing your ads, you can know which concepts have the best chance of performing well in the market.

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