Measuring Advertising Effectiveness | Pretesting and Post Testing

The managerial responsibility in the area of advertising does not come to an end with the execution of an advertising programme. Any sound managerial effort is finally interested in goal attainment and, therefore, always ready to evaluate the results.

Evaluation of advertising or advertising effectiveness refers to the managerial exercise aimed at relating the advertising results to the established standard of performance and objectives so as to assess the real value of the advertising performance.

This evolution exercise is also known as advertising research. It is an attempt to know whether the message designed properly has reached the greatest number of prospects at the least practical cost.

It is an attempt to measure whether the time, talent and the treasure invested in the creative activity has resulted in attaining the goals of profit maximization to the advertiser and satisfaction to the consumers at large.

What is to be measured?

It is quite obvious that in the area of ad effectiveness evaluation, the advertiser is to measure the ad effectiveness.

However, it is not clear as to what is ‘ad effectiveness’?

Ad effectiveness evaluation is a research activity and by its very nature, it is to establish the cause and effect relation between the efforts and the results. This ad effectiveness is to be seen in five areas namely, markets, motives, messages, media and overall results.

In each area, one is to look in for the advertising ability and the achievements in the light of preset objectives. Advertising testing is indispensable because, it enables to get down to the facts, to decide on spending to guard against the mistaken notion that you have to keep in touch with latest trends, to separate wheat from the chaff, the sheep from goats, the winning ideas from the duds, to multiply the results from the rupee investments so made.

When to test?

Testing of ad effectiveness is possible at any stage of advertising process. It can be done before the advertising campaign begins or during its run or after the campaign is fully run. Pre-testing gives the maximum safety as much is not lost; concurrent testing makes him to lose little more as the advertising process has advanced.

Post-testing results in maximum loss if it fails as the whole show is over and he gets the post- mortem report, as to what has happened. Nothing is certain unless and until, we are sure about the accuracy and reliability of feed-back that the advertiser gets from such research.

How to test?

Fortunately, the advertising has wide range of testing techniques or the methods to choose for evaluation purpose. What methods or techniques he is going to use is dependent on when he is going to measure the ad effectiveness.

Accordingly, there can be three sets of methods to meet his needs namely, pre-testing, concurrent testing and post-testing methods.

I. Pre-testing methods

1. Check-list test

A check-list is a list of good qualities to be possessed by an effective advertisement. A typical check- list provides rating scale or basis for ranking the ads in terms of the characteristics.

These characteristics may be honesty, attention getting, readability, reliability, convincing ability, selling ability and the like. The ad that gets highest score is considered as the best.

2. Opinion test

Opinion test or consumer jury test is one that obtains the preference of a sample group of typical prospective consumers of the product or the service for an ad or part of it. The members of the jury rate the ads as to their head-lines, themes, illustrations, slogans, by direct comparison.

Getting preference from a juror is better than getting it from a member of general public or an ad expert.

Jury’s preference is arrived at by seeking answers to the questions as to which ad was seen first?

Which was most convincing?

Which was most interesting? And so on.

Accordingly, the top ranking ad gets selected.

3. Dummy magazine and port-folio test

Dummy magazines are used to pre-test the ads under conditions of approximation resembling normal exposure. A dummy magazine contains standard editorial material, control ads that have been already tested and the ads to be tested. The sample households receive these magazines and the interviews are conducted to determine recall scores.

Port-folio test is like that of dummy magazine test except that the test ads are placed in a folder that contains control ads. The respondents are given these folders for their reading and reactions. The test scores are determined in the interview. The ad with highest score is taken as the best.

4. Inquiry test

It involves running two or more ads on a limited scale to determine which is most effective in terms of maximum inquiries for the offers made. These inquiry tests are used exclusively to test copy appeals, copies, illustrations, and other components.

Any of these elements may be checked. The point that is to be checked is changed and all other components are unaltered, to get the score.

5. Mechanical tests

These mechanical tests are objective in nature unlike the one already explained. These help in provide good measures as to how respondent are eyes and emotions reaching a given advertisement.

The most widely used mechanical devices are:

  • Eye Movement Camera
  • Perceptoscope
  • Psycho-galvanometer and
  • Tachistoscope.

II. Concurrent Testing Methods

1. Co-incidental surveys

This is called as coincidental telephone method also whereby a sample of households is selected, calls are made during the time programme broadcast, the respondents are asked whether their radio or television is on, and if so, to what station or programme it is tuned? The results of the survey are used to determine the share of response for the advertisement or the programme.

2. Consumer diaries

This method involves giving the families selected in advance of diary or individual diaries to the members of the family. The selected families and individual respondents are asked to record the details about the programme they listen or view. The diaries are collected periodically to determine the scores.

3. Mechanical devices

The mechanical devices used to measure the ad differences concurrently are more common to broadcast media.

These are:

  • Audio meters
  • Psychogalvanometer
  • Tachistoscope and
  • Truck Electronic Unit.

4. Traffic counts

Traffic counts are of special applicability to outdoor advertising. One can get good deal of information through traffic counts. This counting is done by independent organisations may be private or public. This work is also undertaken by advertising agencies. For instance, how many automobiles and other vehicles were exposed to a bulletin board or a poster or a wall painting and how many times? Can be determined.

III. Post-testing methods

1. Inquiry tests

It is controlled experiment conducted in the field. In inquiry test, the number of consumer inquiries produced by an advertising copy or the medium is considered as to the measure of its communication effectiveness.

Therefore, the number of inquiries is the test of effectiveness which can be produced only when the ad copy or the medium succeeds in attracting and retaining reader or viewer attention. To encourage inquiries, the advertiser offers to send something complimentary to the reader or the viewer, if he replies.

2. Split-run test

A split-run test is a technique that makes possible testing of two or more ads in the same position, publication, issued with a guarantee of each ad reaching a comparable group of readers. It is an improvement over the inquiry test in that the ad copy is split into elements like appeal layout headline and so on. Here also, the readers are encouraged to reply the inquiries to the keyed or the given address.

3. Recognition tests

Recognition is a matter of identifying something as having seen or heard before. It is based on the memory of the respondent. It attempts to measure the ad effectiveness by determining the number of respondents who have read or seen the ads before. To arrive at the results, readership or listenership surveys are conducted.

4. Recall tests

Recalling is more demanding than recognizing as a test of memory. It involves respondents to answer as to what they have read, seen or heard without allowing them to look at or listen to the ad while they are answering.

There are several variations of this test. One such test is Triple Association Test which is designed to test copy themes or the slogans and reveals the extent to which they have remembered.

5. Sales tests

Sales tests represent controlled experiment under which actual field conditions than the simulated are faced. It attempts to establish a direct relationship between one or more variables and sales of a product or service. It facilitates testing of one ad against another and one medium against another.

To sum-up, ad effectiveness testing is a must to avoid costly mistakes, to select the best alternative from the apparently equal alternatives, to resolve the differences of opinion and to add to the store of knowledge having deep bearing on advertising effectiveness and efficiency. Ad effectiveness testing can be at three levels namely, prior to, during and after the release of an ad.

There are many methods to choose. The final results depend on the validity, reliability and the relevance of each method employed. Testing, if done in good faith, can payout its costs and rich dividends too.


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