Enhancing Effectiveness with Early-stage Ad Testing
Ad testing provides feedback that improves creative to drive growth for brands– learn how to successfully collect audience insights
While the ads we see on television are often just 15 to 60 seconds, they’re the result of many months of planning for brands and agencies. The best ads feel effortless and evoke positive emotions among viewers through riveting storytelling, interesting characters, a sense of place and other right-brain features that lend themselves to long-term brand building.
So how do brands and agencies narrow down their ideas to create a winning ad? Is there a formula to follow that can help advertisers predict which concepts drive growth and which should stay on the cutting room floor?
Test Early, Test Often
Ad testing is the answer to every marketer’s question about the commercial viability of an ad campaign. Some ad concepts might seem too far-fetched, which puts them at risk of upsetting or annoying viewers. Others might feel too safe, which can mean that people won’t pay attention to the ad. Testing can reveal whether teams should wrangle in their creative or push a bit further outside the box, along with other insights.
Testing early and often is key because it provides feedback from people who represent the wider population or even targeted groups of customers if you use a custom sample. In addition to being able to test among various audiences, it’s important to look for a solution that will enable teams to test numerous ad formats, like animatics.
Testing two versions of the same concept can also be helpful. Voiceover and music are crucial details that can affect the audience’s emotional response to the ad, and thus its effectiveness at increasing profits and market share. Should the ad feature a classic 80s song or a contemporary pop hit? By testing different music choices, brands and partner agencies can understand which version is a better fit.
Reports derived from testing should offer clear metrics and guidance. An overall score for the ad is helpful, as it enables creative teams to understand how the ad is predicted to perform over the short-term and long-term in its current format. More specific insights, like the emotions people feel while watching the ad, how quickly they recognise the brand, intensity of emotion and key associations they make with the ad are also useful. In-depth recommendations can also be incredibly enlightening, as they offer unbiased feedback on perhaps small, simple executional adjustments that can make all the difference.
Without testing, brands might be unaware that they are investing heavily in ads that aren’t well received by audiences and won’t have an impact on growth. Testing early and often guides creative decisions and can help brands develop campaigns that can be used over the long term.
A Compelling Case for Testing
GSK, in partnership with Publicis, and System1, were able to achieve effective creative for their global pain brand Voltaren through ad testing. One animatic for its More than Movement campaign, “Grandpa,” had many necessary elements of emotionally engaging creative. It initially scored 2-Stars, predicting a modest long-term future market share gain of up to 0.5%, as well as an exceptional Brand Fluency score of 94.
The early-stage concept elicited a positive emotional response in almost half of respondents, which is key to long-term brand building potential. Viewers also noted key associations, like ‘relief’ to pain, a ‘solution’ to the problem, giving the opportunity to ‘start again’ and connect with others through the joy of movement.
System1 then identified where improvements could yield stronger results, like adding more emotion to the middle of the ad and adjusting the music. GSK and Publicis took this guidance on and upon re-testing the final film, all the scores had increased, including the Star Rating doubling to a strong 4.
Following the launch in Germany, GSK saw immediate business impact with Voltaren sales increasing in the 3 months post initial airing. The creative was also introduced in the UK, US and Italy, where the final film achieved a top 5-Star Rating, predicting a market share gain of up to 3% over the next 12 months.
This is just one example of how frequent and early-stage testing with System1 can help agencies and brands finetune their creative. In turn, this helps advertisers develop ads that drive positive business effects and perhaps even achieve critical acclaim.