Ad Testing

cm2If you are going to spend thousands or millions of dollars on persuasive advertising, despite how creative your agency might be, you should have your advertising tested!

Persuasive advertising, unlike informative advertising,  sets out to make and justify a distinctive claim for a product, brand, organization etc by using various persuasion techniques. Examples are: Digicel claiming to be “the fastest 4G network”, DeBeers touting the idea that “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” or Sagicor seeking to reposition itself as a full-spectrum financial institution with its “wise financial thinking” campaign.  It is also the type of advertising used often in social marketing campaigns such as those designed to encourage individuals to get tested for aids or desist from harmful practices such as smoking or promiscuous sex.

Some companies, especially in the Caribbean, seldom stop to ask why half their advertising dollar might be “wasted” as declared by John Wannamaker and discussed in the article here.    Answers to questions such as the following are critical to avoiding wastage and increasing effectiveness:

1. How good is the ad at gaining audience attention?

2. Are the words and images used appropriate? easily understood? ethically acceptable? etc.

3. Are the claims being made in the ad believable?

4. Is the ad reaching the right target market?

5.  Is the target audience interpreting the ad as expected?

These and other questions can be addressed by an application of marketing research referred to as “advertising research” of which there are two types: pre-testing and post-testing.  The first is done at the planning stage; the stage where the company is trying to decide on elements such as advertising theme, copy and images.  Research can help to fine-tune the decisions at this stage and avoid unnecessary problems.  Post-testing  is carried out after the ad or commercial has been published in the media.  Questions such as whether the commercial  was seen or heard and by whom, by how many, in what media or what can be remembered from it  are addressed at this stage.

When relatively large sums of money are to be spent on advertising the best advice we can give is:“Get Tested!”