What Happens If You Test Everything?

We’re launching Ad Ratings, a subscription service which takes our award-winning ad testing method – the most predictive for long-term brand growth – and applies it to every ad that airs on UK and US TV in over 100 categories, with results as early as 24 hours after commercial airing. If you’re interested in finding out more about Ad Ratings and our suite of market research platforms – fill in your details here .

We sat down with Ad Ratings head Gabriel Aleixo to get his perspective on the biggest creative benchmarking project ever done.

How did Ad Ratings happen?

It started with a very simple question from our Labs team – what’s the true market picture of advertising? If you tested every ad that aired, how many of them would be good, brand-building ads, and how many of them would be basically a waste of money?

We’d managed to automate our testing process so well that scaling it up to tens of thousands of ads wasn’t a problem. But as soon as we started getting the data in we realised how powerful it was.

What did you find out?

For a start, we found out that the true market picture isn’t a pretty one!

Over half the ads out there get 1-Star on our Ad Ratings scale. That means we’d predict them to do nothing whatsoever to build a brand long-term. Yes, there’s a chance they might stimulate short-term sales, and we predict that too. But most of that investment is being wasted. You know the old saying “50% of my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half”? Well, the 50% stuff turns out to be absolutely true. But we DO know which half.

What we realised is that when you combine this complete picture of a category with media spend data you get something incredibly useful.

What does it do for marketers?

If you’re a marketer, Ad Ratings gives you an overall creative benchmark for your category – how many ads of what quality are aired. You can compare brands and businesses within that category – how good are Coke’s ads overall versus Pepsi’s, for instance.

But the real power comes when you look at individual ads and mix in media spend. Suddenly you can see exactly which ads are likely to drive brand growth. And you can see how much money you and your competitors have put behind them. For optimisation and competitor intelligence this is a goldmine.

And every time a new ad is released to air in your category… we rate it and add it.

How does that relate to traditional testing?

We’re still doing custom ad testing – in fact more than ever. But ad testing is all about trying to improve single ads – offering Creative Guidance to make them better.

Ad Ratings is about trying to improve a brand’s entire advertising spend – making sure no money is wasted and as much as possible is going towards ads which really move the needle and drive growth.

The two work together – benchmark your creative with Ad Ratings and then test to focus on making your flagship ads as powerful and profitable as they can be.

Why just TV? And why just in the US and UK?

First of all, we’re going to expand in terms of markets and formats. This is a massive project and we have to get it right bit by bit. But we certainly don’t plan to stop here.

More importantly, though, TV matters. It’s not the most fashionable media right now, but it has the biggest reach and the evidence shows it’s the most effective driver of brand growth. Brands need to get TV right.

If you agree TV is important, you need Ad Ratings. If you think TV isn’t important, you might still be spending a lot on it. Ad Ratings helps you manage that spend, and you’ll never have to worry about TV again!

In a nutshell, what’s Ad Ratings for?

We want to help companies make better advertising, grow their brands, and avoid wasting marketing money. Ad Ratings does all three.

Sign up for Ad Ratings here.


At System1, we help the world’s largest advertisers make confident, creative decisions that lead to transformational business results. Our powerful ad testing platform (Test Your Ad) and our idea testing platform (Test Your Idea) help brands predict the commercial potential of ads and ideas. Complementing TYA and TYI is Test Your Brand, our brand monitoring tool which measures the impact of ads and ideas on brand health, ensuring long-term brand growth through predictive success.

Get in touch or book a demo with one of our experts to learn more.

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