8 Ways to Test Advertisements

Before you commit thousands or millions of dollars to an ad campaign, you would like to have some reassurance that you will be getting a decent return on your investment. The best way to predict whether a campaign will be effective is to do some upfront advertising evaluation.

In the past, pre-testing ads was a cumbersome, time-consuming process, typically involving focus groups and in-person interviews. Today, online surveys offer a fast, cost-effective alternative to traditional testing methods.

Advertising Evaluation


What should an online survey measure? Most advertisers would agree on these eight parameters:

1. Recognition. When advertisers test recognition, they are just trying to determine whether respondents remember seeing an ad before. For example, a survey might show respondents several ads and ask which ones they remember.

2. Recall. Advertisers use the term recall to describe what a viewer gets out of an ad. For example, a survey might show respondents an ad with the brand name removed and ask what brand the ad is promoting.

3. Attitude and opinion. These questions are meant to determine how respondents feel about a product based on an ad.

4. Comprehension. Questions about comprehension test how well respondents understand an ad. These questions are particularly worthwhile for ad campaigns that rely on allusions or subtle messages.

5. Credibility. These questions are meant to determine what portion of respondents believe the claims made in ad.

6. Persuasiveness. Questions in this category are meant to determine to what extent respondents are persuaded to adopt a viewpoint promoted in an ad.

7. Buying predisposition. These questions may take a variety of forms. For example: “How likely are you to buy this product in next month?” “How do you think this product compares to specifically named competitors?” These questions are meant to determine how much an ad encourages participants to take the next step and make a purchase.

8. Ad rating. This is a subjective overall measure of what respondents think about an ad. Do they find it amusing, annoying, aesthetically pleasing?

Depending on the circumstances, advertisers may decide to weigh some of these parameters more heavily than others. For example, if an insurance company is trying to counteract stories about unfair treatment of policy holders, it may value credibility more than other parameters.

Making Sense of Survey Responses

Responses to questions in each of these categories can be useful in themselves, but they become more useful when viewed in relation to each other. For example, what topic correlates most strongly with buying predisposition? How is comprehension related to recall? A statistical tool called conjoint analysis can help advertisers understand these relationships by showing how specific variables interact.Conjoint analysis can also show how different features of an ad affect the eight parameters discussed above. For example, respondents might be shown different versions of an ad and asked questions intended to measure recall. The goal is to determine what combination of features in an ad has the strongest positive effect on a given parameter.

Mineful’s software makes advertising evaluation easy to perform, giving advertisers valuable guidance before they invest in major new campaigns.

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