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Copy Testing Without Accountability
Oct22

Copy Testing Without Accountability

Most advertisers would love to know in advance whether the new ads in which they invest so much were going to actually work in-market. So they copy test, often testing several different concepts, selecting a winner, and then fine-tuning on the basis of the diagnostic feedback they gain. But how well does copy testing work? Two of the larger copy testing systems have been developed and refined – reverse engineered, really – on the basis of those companies’ in-market measurement systems. For reasons discussed below, there is a fairly wide margin of error in the predictive accuracy of these systems, but advertisers who use them do at least improve their odds of success. Then there is the rest of copy testing – the non-accountable systems. Copy tests that claim to predict how well the ad is going to work in-market (either via traditional survey designs or biometric measurement) but have no in-market feedback loop cannot provide any degree of confidence in their predictions. If you keep testing ads, keep deciding which are the winners based on getting better scores on your metrics, but haven’t validated and refined your algorithms, how can a client be sure that your system works? The ‘diagnostics’ that are provided by these non-accountable copy testing systems are equally suspect. The supplier can tell you with a high degree of confidence how to make the ad better. But if better means it’ll score higher in their system, and scoring higher in their system has no apparent correlation with in-market success, you’re refining to the copy test, not to the real world. Based in part on the frustration with traditional copy testing, another new category of diagnostic systems has emerged. Because we know that advertising often works most powerfully on an emotional level, advertisers have been experimenting with brain wave analyses, facial expression tracking and other means of observing how ads make people feel. Some have found this feedback to be of value as they seek to improve their ads’ ability to connect and persuade. These emotion-based measurement systems are, however, a long way from providing predictions of in-market performance, with most not even attempting to build quantitative links with actual in-market performance. But even the copy testing systems that do have the feedback/refinement loop struggle mightily to provide reliable predictions. You’d think it wouldn’t be so hard – Will this ad engage? Will the brand be remembered? Will it persuade? Copy testing fails in large part because it does not acknowledge that the world has changed. First, people don’t watch TV the way they used to – there’s less family around the TV all watching together,...

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Connecting consumer preconceptions and advertising engagement
Oct02

Connecting consumer preconceptions and advertising engagement

Why is it that some individuals choose to engage with a particular ad while others ignore it all together? That’s the million-dollar question. Creators of advertisements strive to ensure that their ads secure the attention of the widest possible swath of consumers within their target audience. With that said, not all consumers are created equal when it comes to the likelihood of engaging with a specific ad for which they have exposure opportunity. Click HERE for...

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Will Your New Creative Approach Succeed In-Market?
Sep24

Will Your New Creative Approach Succeed In-Market?

A recent article in Ad Age discussed an issue that we’ve been hearing a lot of clients talking about lately – the problems with old copy testing methods in a changing world. The topic of copy testing has always been polarizing. One camp firmly believes in copy testing’s ability to pick the winners, provide actionable diagnostic feedback and thus mitigate risk and ensure advertising that works in-market. The other camp has always firmly believed that copy testing isn’t actually very successful at predicting winners, instead rewarding formulaic advertising and stifling creativity. Dramatic shifts in the world of advertising have created even more pressures on copy testing, with advertisers needing more rapid feedback in a fast-moving world, and the expansion of online branded content requiring ever more copy be produced, including copy that is highly customized for specific audience segments. Many campaigns that have been copy tested fail to produce in-market success, lending credence to the argument that copy testing doesn’t work all that well. (Of course, this begs the question of how much worse the overall advertising environment might be if copy testing didn’t exist…) On the other hand, there are countless non-tested approaches that crash and burn (or fizzle and die) when they hit the market, suggesting that not all brave anti-copy testing senior executives are all that prescient either. It would be great if all advertising decision makers had the intuition and foresight to identify the potential power of ‘Just Do It’ – to name just one of the countless, non-copy tested classics. This individual also needs to be able to identify with certainty those ideas that look good on paper but will fail to connect – either because they are actually small, non-breakthrough ideas or are clever but don’t speak effectively to the hearts and minds of the target audience. But, unfortunately, the kind of advertising wisdom and judgement that can make those calls – not to mention the senior management culture that’s okay with a no-copy testing scenario – isn’t found in many companies. I would suggest that the odds of launching a successful new campaign – or even of producing strong executions within an existing campaign – can be improved dramatically by advertisers who take a more disciplined approach to examining and learning from past in-market results – both successes and failures. Examining actual marketing results in an in-depth manner, and documenting the foundational learning that results, can lead to both dramatic and incremental improvements that are, in fact, highly predictive of both short term and long term advertising success. No, I’m not talking about simply re-executing what’s worked in the past. To the...

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How to Redefine Customer Loyalty With Churn Analysis
Apr01

How to Redefine Customer Loyalty With Churn Analysis

To brand marketers, fostering brand loyalty is a major objective. It’s a commonly held belief that the loyal customer is a brand’s greatest asset—worth far more than the brand switcher, both in terms of the premium prices that they will pay and the marketer’s ability to maintain a stable sales base. However, often marketers assume that an unchanging share of market implies stability in consumers’ brand purchasing habits. Click HERE for...

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Mapping the chain of influence on consumer choice
Mar05

Mapping the chain of influence on consumer choice

With billions of dollars being spent annually on advertising by major U.S. advertisers, there is no question that advertising plays a vital role in building brands and influencing consumer choice. While this principle is widely accepted, nearly every advertiser is charged with quantifying the specific return on investment that advertising and integrated marketing communications generates for brands in-market. Further, marketers are pushed to optimize campaigns to achieve specific future performance metrics. Retrospective or backward-looking advertising research approaches have long been the standard to understand how advertising works in-market and to provide insight into how to optimize future campaigns. Armed with post-campaign performance information and sales data, advertisers can determine the extent to which campaigns (and individual campaign elements) contributed (or failed to contribute) to sales outcomes. Click HERE for...

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