Advertising research used to be less complex.
Ten years ago, brands would contact research agencies and ask them to test a new ad campaign with the expectation that they'd have results back in a couple of months. The media landscape was a lot simpler, too: most brands reached consumers through a handful of channels - TV, radio, newspapers and the Internet.
Today, brands use many more media channels to advertise, including social media and mobile. The fragmented media landscape and changing consumer perception is forcing brands to do ad testing more quickly and more efficiently.
If you're doing ad research, here are 3 things you need to keep in mind:
- Do research at the speed of business.
Companies need data in real time to aid in decision-making. Waiting 1 to 2 months for survey results can result in lost opportunities as the market shifts, people's tastes change, etc. Ad research needs to keep up with the speed of business.
Today, technology allows insight professionals to do ad research within a matter of hours or days. And the speed at which companies do ad testing will only get faster in the future. Emerging trends in social media (and its role in driving purchase behavior) and real-time marketing make it necessary for brands to polish their messaging more quickly.
- Treat respondents like humans, not lab rats.
Optimization plays a key role in the ad testing process. By diagnosing the strengths and weaknesses of their ads, brands fine-tune their creative concepts and increase their chances of releasing ads people will love and remember. Ad research, at its very essence, is about understanding what makes consumers tick.
The consumer preference also needs to be reflected in the way the ad research is implemented. That's why the days of 30-minute surveys are quickly disappearing. Consumers today prefer to participate in studies in digestible chunks. Engaging people more frequently - and in shorter bursts - results in higher response rates and better quality data because it allows people to participate where and when they'd like, even if they only have a few minutes to spare.
In addition to shorter, more easily digestible surveys, we should also consider tone when engaging with respondents. A more casual, personal tone in your survey will improve people's experience when they are participating in your study. A Vision Critical colleague captures it best, saying, "We need to treat and talk to our respondents like humans, not lab rats."
- Tie key measures to actual consumer behavior.
Ad research involves looking at a number of factors to truly determine the effectiveness of advertisements. The effectiveness of an ad couldn't be predicted by a single factor.
Our add+impact ad-testing platform, for example, uses 4 measures to predict the overall effectiveness of ads:
- Attention: Did your ad get noticed?
- Brand bonding: Did you improve on consumers' emotional connection with your brand?
- Message takeaway: Did consumers accurately get the message that the ad tried to convey?
- Brand recall: Is your brand the hero? Do consumers know the brand behind the ad?
Why do we use these 4 measures? Because they do the best job of predicting purchase intent - the consumers stated intent to purchase your product.
The ad testing business is both dynamic and chaotic. Technology is forcing the practice to adapt, but one thing remains the same: it's about listening to audience feedback and removing the guesswork when fine-tuning creative concepts.
To learn more about Vision Critical's ad testing methodology - including case studies from Microsoft Surface, Coca-Cola and John Lewis - listen to Brett Tucker's on-demand webinar, Effective Ad Testing in a Changing World.