Advertising Research

Advertising research, often referred to as ad testing, aims to determine an ad’s effectiveness based on consumer responses, feedback, and behavior. This can be done on a piece-by-piece basis, or it can be done with periodic or continuous in-market research that monitors the performance of a campaign over time.

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Ad testing allows you to:

  • Effectively target key market segments with content that resonates
  • Get iterative feedback to ensure core messaging sticks, and to share those insights with ad creators and/or stakeholders
  • Achieve data-driven confidence when promoting a campaign
  • Make an informed go or no-go decision when deploying an ad
  • Evaluate the performance of an ad agency
  • Get the highest ROI out of your ad spend
  • Predict advertising effect on purchase intent

Why conduct ad research?

Weak advertising is not only a waste of spend, it can also cause lost sales. Advertising research prevents this from happening with pre- and post-sales feedback that works to optimize messaging. Companies often test their advertising with a subset of a target market before rolling out a campaign to a broader target market.

Even if you’re not working with a multimillion-dollar advertising budget, it is wise to test your ads. Ad testing is one of the best ways to see how effective a new ad might be without blindly spending your budget or potentially offending your customers. You can use the test feedback to refine the advertisement or go in a different direction. The test provides insights to help you make informed decisions about how to best use your advertising budget.

How to conduct an effective ad test

Ad Testing Example

Ad tests work best when you have a clear expectation of the purpose of the ad. Some advertisements are designed to promote awareness, while others look to build a brand or drive behavior. Regardless of the intent, it’s important to define the goal of the advertisement before running tests.

The following are eight commonly performed ad tests:

  • Recall Companies need to be memorable if customers are going to consider their products or services. In a recall test, participants see an ad and then wait a specified amount of time before being asked whether they are able to recall a particular ad or product.
  • Persuasion A test for persuasion determines the effectiveness of an ad in changing attitudes and intentions. This test assesses brand attitudes before and after ad exposure. Participants answer a series of questions before seeing the proposed advertisement. Then they take a second test to assess how the advertisement changed their attitudes and intentions.
  • Response Many ads are designed to drive an action or a conversion. This is especially true of online businesses that rely on click-through and conversion to drive revenue. In a response test, participants receive an ad with a unique identifier (URL string, promo code, phone number, etc.) to track how well the advertisement performs in converting interest to action.
  • Service attributes This type of ad test determines which attributes and features the ad communicates. For instance, a services attribute test might ask whether the ad communicates that a certain computer is reliable or whether it communicates the right features.
  • Communicating benefits Effective ads communicate the right product or feature benefits to the target market. Benefits might include aspects like comfort, quality, or luxury.
  • Personal values Personal values are a large factor in driving consumer purchase decisions. If a customer is purchasing a car, they may value customer service, vehicle reliability, or the affordability of dealership services. When testing ads it’s important to determine how well an advertisement communicates the personal values of the target market.
  • Higher order values Advertisements often communicate higher order values, such as accomplishment, peace of mind, or personal satisfaction. These higher order values can have great influence on purchase decisions, brand awareness, and market positioning.
  • Ad Effectiveness This type of ad testing measures how effective an ad is, based on behavioral and attitudinal goals. These goals will vary by ad and include such factors as whether the ad is entertaining to watch, whether the ad is informative, and whether the ad drives consumers to purchase a product of service.