In this article we will discuss about copy research testing used in advertising research!

The methods are: 1. Communication Tests 2. Resonance Tests 3. Thought Listings 4. Recall Tests 5. Recognition Tests 6. Attitude Change Studies 7. Physiological Tests 8. Pilot Testing 9. Tracking Studies 10. Direct Response 11. Single-Source Data 12. Frame by Frame Tests.

List of Copy Testing Methods used in

Copy Testing Method # 1. Communication Tests:

These test the “getting it” dimension more than anything else. A communication test simply seeks to discover whether a message is communicating something close to what is desired.

Communication tests are usually done in a group setting, with data coming from a combination of pencil and paper questionnaires and group discussion.


They are done with one major thought in mind to prevent a major disaster, to prevent communicating something the creators of the ad are too close to see but that is entirely obvious to consumers first seeing the ad. This could be an unintended double entendre or an unseen sexual allusion.

It could be an unexpected interpretation of the imagery in an ad as that ad is moved from country to country around the world. Remember, if the consumer sees unintended things, it doesn’t matter whether they’re intended or not to the consumer, they’re there.

However, advertisers should balance this against the fact that communication test members feel privileged and special, and thus they may try too hard to see things. This is another instance where well trained and experienced researchers must be counted on the draw a proper conclusion from the testing.

Copy Testing Method  # 2. Resonance Tests:

In a resonance test, the goal is to determine to what extent the message resonates or rings true with target-audience members. The question becomes, does this ad match consumers’ own experiences? Does it produce an affinity reaction?


Do consumes who view it say, “Yeah, that’s right; I feel just like that”? Do consumers read the ad and make it their own? In the view of some, this is the direction in which copy research needs to move. The assessment dimension here reflects knowledge, emotions, and feelings as well as the “getting it” dimension.

Copy Testing Method # 3. Thought Listings:

It is commonly assumed that advertising generates thoughts, or cognitions, during and following exposure. Copy research that tries to identify specific thoughts that may be generated by an ad is referred to as thought listing, or cognitive response analysis. Here the researcher is interested in the thoughts that a finished or near- finished as ad generates in the mind of the consumer.

Typically, cognitive responses are collected by having individuals watch the commercial in groups and, as soon as it is over, asking them to writer downs all the thoughts that were in their minds while watching the commercial. The hope is that this will capture what the potential audience members made of the ad and how they responded, or talked back, to it.

These verbatim responses can then be analysed in a number of ways. Usually, simple percentages or box scores of word counts are used. The ratio of favourable to unfavourable thoughts may be the primary interest of the researcher. Alternatively, the number of times the person made a self-relevant connection—that is, “That would be good for me” or “That looks like something I’d like” -could be tallied and compared for different ad executions.


This method gets at several things: “getting it”, knowledge acquired, attitude shifts, and emotions and feelings. The idea itself is very appealing: getting at people’s stream of thoughts about an ad at time of exposure.

It is in the actual execution of the test that problems arise, because these thoughts are in reality retrospective, highly edited, and obtained in environments and mental states completely unlike anything resembling how people actually are exposed to ads, such as sitting in their living room, talking, half-listening to the TV, and so on.

It is also feared that these thoughts are really only created retrospectively for the researcher, and that in a real setting the consumer may be thinking about something or someone else, or may be “zoned out” entirely. But the researchers asked; you have to tell them something.

Copy Testing Method # 4. Recall Tests:

These commonly employed tests are performed to get at the knowledge dimension. The basic idea is that if the ad is to work, it has to be remembered. Following on this premise is the further assumption that the ads best remembered are the ones most likely to work. Thus the objective of these tests is to see just how much, if anything, the viewer of an ad remembers of the message. Recall is used in the testing of print and television advertising.


In television, the basic procedure is to recruit a group of individuals from the target market who will be watching a certain channel during a certain time on a test date. They are asked to participate ahead of time, and simply told to watch the show. A day after exposure, the testing company calls the individuals on the phone and determines, of those who actually saw the ad, how much they can recall.

The day after recall (DAR) procedure generally starts with questions such as, “Do you remember seeing a commercial for any laundry detergents? If not, do you remember seeing a commercial for Tide?” If the respondent remembers, he or she is asked what the commercial said about the product- What did the commercial show? What did the commercial look like?

The interview is recorded and transcribed. The verbatim interview is coded into various categories representing levels of recall, typically reported as a percentage. Unaided recall is when the respondent demonstrates that he or she saw the commercial and remembered the brand name without having the brand name mentioned.

If the person had to be asked about a Tide commercial, it would be scored as aided recall. Burke Marketing Service and Gallup and Robinson’s in-View Service are the two major suppliers of these tests.


In a typical print recall test, a consumer is recruited from the target market, generally at a shopping mall. He or she is given a magazine to take home. Many times the magazine is an advance issue of a real publication; other times it is a fictitious magazine created only for testing purposes. The ads are “tipped in”, or inserted, into the vehicle. Some companies alter the mix of remaining ads; others do not.

Some rotate the ads (put them in different spots in the magazine) so as not to get effects due to either editorial context or order. The participants are told that they should look at the magazine and that they will be telephoned the following day and asked some questions. During the telephone interview, aided recall is assessed.

This involves a product category cue, such as, “Do you remember seeing any ads for personal computers?” the percentage who respond affirmatively and provide some evidence of actually remembering the ad are scored as exhibiting aided recall. Other tests go into more detail by actually bringing the ad back to the respondent and asking about various components of the ad, such as the headline and body copy.

Sometimes a deck of cards with brand names is given to consumers, and they are asked to stop if they can remember any ads from the brands on the cards. If they can, then they are asked to describe everything they can remember about the ad. These are scored in a manner similar to television day after recall tests.


Considerable research indicates there is little relation between recall scores and sales effectiveness. But doesn’t it make sense that the best ads are the ads best remembered? Well, the evidence for that is simply not there. This seeming contradiction has perplexed academics and practitioners for a long time.

And as ads become more and more visual, recall of words and claims is more and more irrelevant. The fact is that, as measured, the level of recall for an ad seems to have relatively little (if anything) to do with sales. This may be due to highly inflated and artificial recall scores.

Copy Testing Method # 5. Recognition Tests:

This type of testing also attempts to get at little more than evidence of exposure and some knowledge gain. Recognition tests ask magazine readers and television viewers whether they remember having seen particular advertisements and whether they can name the company sponsoring the ad.

For print advertising, the actual advertisement is shown to respondents, and for television advertising, a script with accompanying photos is shown. This is a much easier task than recall in that respondents are cued by the very stimulus they are supposed to remember, and they aren’t asked to do anything more than say yes or no.


Companies that do this kind of research follow some general procedures. Subscribers to a relevant magazine are contacted and asked if an interview can be set up in their home. The readers must have at least glanced at the issue to qualify. Then each target ad is shown, and the readers are asked if they remember seeing the ad (if they noted it), if they read or saw enough of the ad to notice the brand name (if they associated it), and if they claim to have read at least 50 percent of the copy (if they read most of it). This testing is usually conducted just a few days after the current issue becomes available.

The noted, associated, and read most scores are calculated. With print ads, starch is the major supplier of recognition tests, and in television, Bruzzone is the leader.

Recognition scores have been collected for a long time which allows advertiser to compare their current ads with similar ones done last week, last month, or fifty years ago. This is a big attraction of recognition scores. The biggest problem with this test is that of a yea-saying bias. In other words, many people say they recognize an ad that in truth they haven’t seen. After a few days, do you really think you could correctly remember?

Copy Testing Method # 6. Attitude Change Studies:

The typical attitude change study uses a before and after ad exposure design. They may be either survey based or done in a theater or shopping mall setting. In the latter case, people from the target market are recruited, and their pre-exposure attitudes toward the advertised brand as well as toward competitors’ brands are taken then they are exposed to the test ad, along with some other ads. Following this exposure, their attitudes are measured again.

The goal, of course, is to gauge the potential of specific ad versions for changing brand attitudes. These studies are often conducted in a theater test setting. These tests often use a constant sum measurement scale. A subject is asked to divide a sum (for example, 100 points) among several (usually three) brands. For example, they would be asked to divide 100 points among three brands of deodorants in relation to how likely they are to purchase each.

They do this before and after ad exposure. A change score is then computed. Sometimes this change score is adjusted by the potential change, so as not to unfairly penalize established brands with high pre-exposure ratings since there’s not much room for improvement. Simulated shopping trips can also be part of this research. In the survey version of this a survey is delivered before the ads are in the test market, the after. Various levels of “warning” are used to make sure the people with surveys see the ads.


The reliability of these procedures is very dependent on sample size and appropriateness. Furthermore, their validity is premised on a single ad exposure (sometimes two) in an unnatural viewing environment (such as a theater).

Many advertisers believe that commercials don’t register their impact until after three, four, or more exposures. Still, a significant swing in scores with a single exposure suggests that something is going on, and that some of this effect might be expected when the ad reaches real consumes in the comfort of their homes. But this method is expensive and may be waning in popularity.

It survives because they provide objective information, and in the political struggle that generally embroils advertising, this is something. It also provides the good old blame game when the ad does poorly, the person who lobbied for it can always say that the numbers looked good. John Philip Jones of Syracuse University has conducted analyses on these data and his conclusions are very supportive.

He contends that even if this form of message pre-testing yields some incorrect predictions about ads’ potential effectiveness (as it surely will), an advertiser’s success rate with this tool is bound to improve relative to that which would be realized without it. On the other hand, it is difficult to know whether the respondent is really expressing feelings toward the ad or the product advertised, given the artificial conditions.

To test attitude change in print ads, test ads can be dropped off at ht participants’ homes in the form of magazines. The test ads have been “tipped in,” or inserted. Subjects are told that the researcher will return the next day for an interview. They are also told that as part of their compensation for participating, they are being entered in a drawing.

At that point, they are asked to indicate their preferences on a wide range of potential prizes. The next day when the interviewer returns, he or she asks for these preferences a second time. This is the post exposure attitude measure.

Copy Testing Method # 7. Physiological Tests:


Physiological measures detect how consumers react to messages, based on physical responses. Eye-tracking systems have been developed to monitor eye movement across print ads. With one such system, respondents wear a goggle like device that records (on a compute system) pupil dilations, eye movements, and length of view by sectors within a print advertisement.

Another physiological measure is a psycho-galvanometer, which measures galvanic skin response (GSR). GSR is a measure of impute changes in perspiration, which suggest arousal related to some stimulus-in this case, an advertisement.

Voice response analysis is another high-tech research procedure. The ides here is that inflections in the voice when discussing an ad indicate excitement and other physiological states. In a typical application, a subject is asked to respond to a series of ads. These responses are tape-recorded and then computer analyzed.

Deviations from a flat response are claimed to be meaningful. Other, less frequently used physiological measures record brain wave activity, heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle contraction.

All physiological measures suffer from the same drawbacks. While we may be able to detect a physiological response to an advertisement, there is no way to determine whether the response is to the ad or the product, or which part of the advertisement was responsible for the response.

In some sense, even the positive-negative dimension is obscured. Without being able to correlate specific effects with other dimensions of an ad, physiological measures are of minimal benefit.


Since the earliest day of advertising, there has been a fascination with physiological measurement. Advertising’s fascination with science is well documented, with early attempts at physiology being far more successful as a sales tool than a way to actually gauge ad effectiveness.

There is come thing provocative about scientists (sometimes even in white lab coats) wiring people up; it seems so precise and legitimate. Unfortunately-or fortunately, depending on your perspective-tees measures tell us little beyond the simple degree of arousal attributable to an ad. For most advertisers, this minimal benefit doesn’t justify the expense and intrusion involved with physiological measurement.

Copy Testing Method # 8. Pilot Testing:

Before committing to the expense of a major campaign, advertisers often test their messages in the marketplace via pilot testing. There are three major types of pilot testing. Split-cable transmission allows testing of two different versions of an advertisement through direct transmission to two separate samples of similar households within a single. Well-defined market area.

This method provides exposure in a natural setting for heightened realism. Factors such as frequency of transmission and timing of transmission can be carefully controlled. The advertisements are then compared on measures of exposure, recall, and persuasion.

Split-run distribution uses the same technique as split-cable transmission, except the print medium is used. Two different versions of the same advertisement are placed in every other copy of a magazine.

This method of pilot testing has the advantage of using direct response as a test measure. Ads can be designed with a reply card that can serve as a basis of evaluation. Coupons and toll-free numbers can also be used. The realism of this method is a great advantage in the testing process. Expense is, of course, a major drawback.


Finally, a split-list experiment tests the effectiveness of various aspects of direct mail advertising pieces. Multiple versions of a direct mail piece are prepared and sent to various segments of a mailing list. The version that pulls (produces sales) the best is deemed superior.

The advantage of all the pilot testing methods is the natural and real setting within which the test takes place. A major disadvantage is that competitive or other environmental influences in the market cannot be controlled and may affect the performance of one advertisement without ever being detected by the researcher.

Copy Testing Method # 9. Tracking Studies:

Posttest message tracking assesses the performance of advertisements during or after the launch of an advertising campaign. Common measures of an ad’s performance are recall, recognition, awareness and attitude, and purchase behaviour. Tracking studies measure the change in an audience’s brand awareness and attitude before and after an advertising campaign.

This common type of advertising research is almost always conducted as a survey. Members of the target market are surveyed on a fairly regular basis to detect any changes. Any change in awareness or attitude is usually attributed (rightly or wrongly) to the advertising effort.

The problem with these types of tests is the inability to isolate the effect of advertising on awareness and attitude amid a myriad of other influences—media reports, observation, friends, competitive advertising and so forth.

Copy Testing Method # 10. Direct Response:

Advertisements in both print and broadcast media that offer the audience the opportunity to place an inquiry or respond directly through a web site, reply card, or toll-free phone number produce inquiry/direct response measures. These measures are quite straightforward in the sense that advertisements that generate a high number of inquiries or direct responses, compared to historical benchmarks, are deemed effective. Additional analyses may compare the number of inquiries or responses to the number of sales generated.


For example, some print ads will use different 800 numbers for different version of the ad so that the agency can compute which ad is generating more inquiries. These measures are not relevant for all types of advertising, however. Ads designed to have long-term image building or brand identity effects should not be judged using such short-term response measures.

Copy Testing Method # 11. Single-Source Data:

With the advent of universal product codes (UPCs) on product packages and the proliferation of cable television, research firms are now able to engage in single-source research to document the behaviour of individuals in a respondent pool by tracking their behaviour from the television set to the checkout counter.

Single source tracking measures provide information from individual households about brand purchases, coupon use, and television advertising exposure by combining grocery store scanner data and data from devices (called people meters) attached to the households’ television, which monitor viewing behaviour.

These sophisticated measures are used to gauge the impact of advertising and promotions on consumers’ actual purchases. The main problem with these measures is that it is impossible to determine what aspects of advertising had positive effects on consumers.

Copy Testing Method # 12. Frame by Frame Tests:

These tests are usually employed for ads where the affective or emotional component is seen as key, although they may also be used to obtain through listing as well. These tests typically work by getting consumers to turn dials (like/dislike) while viewing television commercials in a theater setting. The data from these dials is then collected, average, and superimposed over the commercial. The superimposed lines display interest in the ad.

Where the line is higher represents a period of higher interest in the ad, and subsequently when the line dips, it shows less interest in that particular point of the ad. While some research companies do ask consumers what they were thinking or feeling at certain points along the trace, and sometimes these responses are diagnostic, others do not.

In those cases, what the trace line really does then is measure the levels of interest at each specific moment in the execution-it do not explain why consumer’s reactions were positive or negative. Its downside involves somewhat higher costs than other methods, and some validity concerns……. in that you are asking them to do something they do not normally do while watching television.

On the other hand, the method has widespread application from television commercials to feature films to trial simulations with mock jurors. Most researchers, including academic ones, believe that useful data can be gathered in this way.