Everything we need to know about advertising research. The advertising research is to be conducted to measure the advertising impact or the result of the effort with the help of detailed study on advertising objectives, product appeals, copy testing, and media effectiveness.

The advertising research is an application of marketing research aimed at the measurement of advertising effectiveness. Advertising research is better defined by history and practice than anything else. Research comes into the advertising process at several points. Early in the process, it is sometimes used to help a marketer determine which segment of the market to target.

The history of advertising research tells us quite a bit about its current status. Although some advertising agencies have had research departments for 80 years or more, the real boom days came between the 1930s and the 1970s.

Learn about:- 1. Introduction to Advertising Research 2. Meaning of Advertising Research 3. Types 4. Applications 5. Purpose 6. Methods 7. Problems.

Advertising Research: Meaning, Types, Applications, Development, Development Methods and Problems



  1. Introduction to Advertising Research
  2. Meaning of Advertising Research
  3. Types of Advertising Research
  4. Applications in Advertising Research
  5. Purposes of Developing Advertising Research
  6. Methods for Developing Advertising Research
  7. The Problems in Advertising Research

Advertising Research – Introduction

Advertising is bringing a product (or service) to the attention of potential and current customers. Advertising is focused on one particular product or service. Thus, an advertising plan for one product might be very different than that for another product. Advertising is typically done with signs, brochures, commercials, direct mailings or e-mail messages, personal contact, etc.

Promotion keeps the product in the minds of the customer and helps stimulate demand for the product. Promotion involves ongoing advertising and publicity (mention in the press). The ongoing activities of advertising, sales and public relations are often considered aspects of promotions.

At a recent industry conference on account planning, it was actually strongly asserted that one of the most liberating forces of social justice on the scene today was a “new” form of advertising research- account planning. Ok, let’s get this straight… Advertising account planners will be the next social revolutionaries; they will feed the poor, fight social injustice, and brig one universal peace, love, and understanding? Yeah, right.


Advertising professional does go on, don’t they?

But that is the kind of rhetoric that some people actually use to describe account planning: the “new” thing in advertising and promotion management/research. Some agencies are adopting this system, and many more are celebrating it in theory. While it may or may not be any big deal in reality, some of the thinking surrounding it is different.

The account planning way of thinking merges the research and brand management business. It says that figuring out what’s cool, projecting that in your brand, and keeping it cool is all one brand management function. The advertising and promotion agency’s share of the brand management business has to do with not only creating, but constantly maintaining the brand.

Good research can play an important role in this it can be very helpful or an enormous hindrance, as advertisers are realizing more and more. Top- down delivered marketing is not considered realistic by many in the industry. With this new realization comes new terms.


One is the idea of account planning as a substitute for the traditional research efforts of an agency. There has been a very recent, but very significant turn in thinking about research and its role in advertising, promotion, and brand management. There has also been a very recent but strong recognition that advertising is really about chasing cool.

Advertising research is better defined by history and practice than anything else. Research comes into the advertising process at several points. Early in the process, it is sometimes used to help a marketer determine which segment of the market to target.

Throughout, research plays a role in helping the creatives (the people who actually make the ads) understand their audience members. Later, it is sometimes used to make go/no go decision, to estimate the effect of an ad campaign, and to evaluate the performance of an ad agency. Unfortunately, it is also commonly misused.

As you can see, advertising research is used to judge advertising, but whom judges advertising research, and how? First of all, not enough people, in our opinion, questions and judge advertising research. Research is not magic or truth and it should never be confused with such.


Issues of reliability, validity, trustworthiness, and meaningfulness should be seriously considered when research is used to make important decisions. Otherwise, you are just using research as some sort of mystical ritual that you know really has no meaning, mouthing the words, faithfully uttering the chant, too afraid to think about the reality of the naked emperor.

Here are a few helpful concepts. Reliability means that the method generates generally consistent finding over time. Validity means that the information generated is relevant to the research questions being investigated. In other words, the research investigates what it seeks to investigate.

Trustworthiness is a term usually applied to qualitative data, and it means exactly what it implies: Can one, knowing how the data were collected, trust them, and to what extent? Most difficult of all is the notion of meaningfulness. Just what does a piece of research really mean (if anything)?

It is important for advertising professionals to take a moment (or several) and consider the limitations inherent in their data and in their interpretations. Too few take the time, and way too much advertising research is misapplied, misguided, misleading, irrelevant, wrong, or just plain silly.


It can actually help make better decisions involving ads, and maybe (although we are not entirely convinced) better ads. Consider, for instance, the impact of internet peer-to- peer (P2P) file swapping to advertiser.

The history of advertising research tells us quite a bit about its current status. Although some advertising agencies have had research departments for 80 years or more, the real boom days came between the 1930s and the 1970s.

During this Period, Agencies Adopted Research Departments for Two basic Reasons:

(1) The popularization of science in the culture during this period suggested its necessity, and


(2) Other agencies had research departments.

The need to actually know more about eh consumer and the message probably ran a distant third. The most critical moment in this story was the 1950s. During this time, or adoration of science was at its height; the books, the plays, the movies, ad the ads of this period are full of pop science.

There was a popular belief in hidden persuasion accompanied by a pop-culture version of Freud and his obsession with the repressed subconscious (typically sexual in flavor). It was a period of paranoia about communist mind control, seduction, and subversion.

This social environment gave researchers communication to argue for more resources and “scientific methods” to study advertising. The reason advertising research is what it is today (and the reason many ads look the way they do) is because of this turn of history.


However, over the last 15 to 20 years, much of the science worship diminished. Still, it would be a mistake to think that social science has no place in advertising research. It should, and it does; it’s just that we are now more balance and realistic in our beliefs and expectations regarding the social science application to advertising.

A lot of things are called “advertising research”. Not all of it is done on the actual ads themselves. Quite a bit of advertising research is really done in preparation for making the ads. This reality yields a helpful distinction between developmental research and copy research.

Advertising Research – Meaning

‘Research’ is a systematic and objective investigation of a subject or problem to find out relevant information or principles. Research may be “funda­mental” or “applied” in nature.

Fundamental research seeks to extend the boundaries of knowledge in a given area with no necessary immediate application to existing problems. Applied research attempts to use existing knowledge as an aid to solve the given problem or set of problems.

Marketing researches are generally conducted by the companies for their internal use. The help of marketing research firms may also be used for the benefit of the organisation, and for analysing complicated problem oriented marketing situations.

It is the role of the advertiser to measure the effects of communication. The component of communication model should be studied thoroughly and evaluation should be made on their effectiveness. The components of communications are – a) Source factors, b) Message variables, c) Media strategies and d) Receivers of the message.


The advertising research is to be conducted to measure the advertising impact or the result of the effort with the help of detailed study on advertising objectives, product appeals, copy testing, and media effectiveness. The objectives of the research should concentrate on – i) the optimum utilisation of advertising budget; (ii) the choice of media in implementing an advertisement campaign; (iii) the effect of advertisement on the target audience; (iv) to bring cost-effectiveness in advertising.

The formulation of advertising objectives and budget of expenditures are to be considered in setting the goals and the objectives should be streamlined in order to determine the tasks to be performed.

The effectiveness of an advertising campaign should be studied at different stages and from different perspectives.

Advertising Research – 4 Important Types: Product Appeal, Advertising Message, Advertising Media Selection and Advertising Effectiveness Research

The researches may be conducted as follows:

1. Product Appeal Research.

2. Advertising Message (Copy Testing) Research.


3. Advertising Media Selection Research.

4. Advertising Effectiveness Research.

Type # 1. Product Appeal Research:

The attitude of the target group towards a particular product or brand is of importance to study the consumer behaviour. This attitude is known as the Product Appeal.

Generally, there is a stability of a set of attitude towards salient features of a product. A consumer compares and evaluates a brand with this set of attitude, which is also known as “back group”. It is important to study these salient characteristics of a product and the perceptions of the consumer at different segments.

The product appeal is to be designed, considering the favourable factors of a product. It will be the task of the marketer to change the unfavourable image of target group towards the product or the brand presented, into a favourable one.

The features of a product should be highlighted cautiously, considering the attitudes of the consumers. The salient features of attraction may be different in different segments of market. An attempt should be made to reinforce the salient features in the product advertisement.


To illustrate the product appeal, we may take an example of a brand of toothpaste in a particular market segment. The product features of the toothpaste is to be highlighted, considering the market segment and the product should be positioned accordingly.

The ingredients or the features of the toothpaste may be as follows:

i. Teeth protection abilities,

ii. Teeth whitening qualities,

iii. Mouth freshening qualities,

iv. Gum protection potentialities.


If the first two features are considered the salient features in the particular market segment, the stress should be given on the first two features to generate the product appeal. The attitude towards the product should be generated, highlighting attractive characteristics of the product. The product appeal research is of importance to the advertiser to capture the market and to compete with the other brands of the competitors.

Type # 2. Advertising Message Research:

Message of the advertisement is of great importance to create an impact and to project the product in the market.

Consumers’ attitude and the effect of message may be identified and measured. The advertiser should locate salient characteristics of a particular market segment and should design the product appeal and the relevant message accordingly. Instead of critising the competitor’s brand, the advertiser should highlight the positive features of the brand advertised, through well directed message.

The techniques like depth interviews and projective tests may be conducted to estimate and measure the spontaneous and emotional responses. Various methods of testing techniques may be adopted to measure the effectiveness of the message.

The methods are as follows:

i. Copy testing


ii. Before test or Pre-testing

iii. Portfolio tests

iv. Consumer-jury tests

v. Rating scales

vi. Simulated sales tests

vii. Psychological tests

i. Copy testing – The purpose of this test is to appraise the degree of communication effect of the advertisement to the consumer. The motivation of the consumer to purchase the product is another objective of this test.

ii. Pre-testing – Before the advertisement is released for full run in a medium, these tests are conducted to make modifications or improvements.

iii. Portfolio tests – In this method a number of dummy advertisements are put in a folio along with the advertisement to be tested. The views and impression on the advertisement copies shown are collected from selective respondents.

iv. Consumer-jury tests – In this method a panel of jury is formed, comprising hypothetical consumers. The members of jury are asked to respond on the advertisement copy placed before them. They are requested to give their ratings on the same, starting with the best and coming down to the worst one. It tends to separate the very weak advertisement from the very strong advertisement.

v. Rating scale – It provides a list against which the advertisements are rated. It helps to single out good and bad elements of an advertisement.

vi. Simulated Sales Test – In this method, different advertisement copies are displayed at different stores. The volume of increase in sales will be considered as the indicator of effective advertisement.

vii. Psychological Tests – These tests undertake various research methodology like word association, sentence completion, depth interviewing etc.

Type # 3. Advertising Media Selection Research:

The decision making process in media selection is based on the following fundamental issues:

i. Choice of a particular medium or combination of media viz. T.V., radio or print.

ii. Selection of national, regional or local level media.

iii. The periodicity or the interval of the media use.

Type # 4. Advertising Effectiveness Research:

There can be various alternative strategies for varying degree of effects on the target audience. Different statistical models may be applied to measure the scale of effectiveness and generation of motivational attitude among the prospective consumers.

Various techniques for the measurement of advertisement effectiveness may be adopted like –

i. Coupon Research:

Coupon research may be conducted through mail order trading. To evoke inquiries, some special offers are made; the replies are analysed and the effectiveness of different publications are evaluated.

Experiments can be made with the relative pulling power of various publications at different regions. ‘Split run’ may be conducted to evaluate the relative appeal.

‘Reader Service’ of different magazines involves the readers. Necessary information are supplied by the advertisers, if required.

The audience response may be measured through –

a. Questionnaires Response:

The questionnaires are formed and sample procedures are generated to obtain records of media activity such as radio listening, television viewing, newspaper reading etc.

The objective of this method is to gather, wide variety of information with the help of well-designed questionnaire. It is economical and can be selected on the regional arid territorial basis.

Mechanical Device may also be installed to ascertain the acceptance of different media. The procedures and the methodology are more complicated, but the result can be obtained quickly in more unbiased fashion.

Personal Interview technique is time consuming and also expensive. The Recall Tests deal with asking the respondent what he can recall or remember about an advertisement. The recall is obtained, using both aided and unaided recall techniques. The respondents are asked to play back everything they can remember.

All responses are recorded verbatim. Another method known as Penetration, Comprehension, Recall, Believability method or P.C.R.B. Method which can be used to test whether the advertisement has penetrated in the mind of consumer. The Progressive tests method is used to measure the advertising effectiveness in terms of sales. These tests are designed to measure various stages of buyer awareness, preference, intention to purchase in relation to effectiveness of advertising.

The tests are simple and easy to execute and the advertisement effectiveness is measured immediately.

There are various other forms of Tests like – (a) Intend-to-buy tests, (b) Sales Result Tests, (c) Day after Recall Tests, (d) Recognition Tests etc.

b. Designing the Market Tests:

It involves several elements as follows:

(a) Selecting Test Markets on the basis of –

(i) The population size

(ii) Demographic composition

(iii) Competitiveness in the market

(iv) Media size

(b) Implementing and monitoring

(c) The duration of the tests

(d) The measurement and evaluation – Tests may be organised by implementing the – (i) Buying Income Method (ii) Sales Ratio Method (iii) Share of market method. The National Sales Estimates (N.S.E.) may be ascertained by adopting the following methods –

Advertising Research – Applications: Evaluating Advertising Effectiveness, When and What to Measure, Concept Testing, Copy Testing and Concurrent Testing

The advertising research is an application of marketing research aimed at the measurement of advertising effectiveness.

The following are typical applications in Advertising Research:

1. Evaluating Advertising effectiveness

2. When and what to measure

3. Concept testing

4. Copy testing

5. Concurrent testing.

1. Evaluating Advertising Effectiveness:

There is a famous quote which goes like “half the money spent on advertising is waste, but it is difficult to determine which half”. Companies around the globe spend billions of Rupees on their advertising. Hence it becomes imperative for the companies to maintain a proper evaluation system for monitoring advertising effectiveness. Evaluation of advertising is often a critical factor in marketing success.

A slight change in an advertising campaign brought about through some form of evaluation can lead to significant increases in sales and profits. In a highly intense competitive environment, a rational evaluation can provide a company with an edge over its rivals. Evaluation also gives business some means of control over the tremendous sums of money spent on marketing communications. Thorough and accurate evaluations increase chances of success of the marketing communication programme, but also strengthens the morale of the people associated with the campaign.

Evaluation Provides Strategic Advantage:

Phillip Kotler observed, Companies find themselves competing in a race where the road signs and rules keep changing. Where there is no finish line, no permanent win Evaluation of effectiveness assumes a strategic dimension, because it remains difficult to isolate the effects of marketing communications on sales. The evaluation task is not impossible, but the large number of controllable and uncontrollable factors can turn even a simple market test into a meaningless exercise producing useless data.

Advertisers tend to ask three basic questions before measuring the effectiveness of a campaign:

i. Why to measure?

ii. When to measure?

iii. What to measure?

These questions assume important dimension because of the following reasons:

i. Cost:

Research can be expensive. As companies strive to keep costs down, research is one of the first expenses cut or significantly decreased. Measures to evaluate advertising after it is run are particularly vulnerable.

ii. Research Problems:

Advertising people are uncertain about the methodologies that research organizations use and the criteria they test for. Research activities tend to be divided into developmental research, which is used to develop a campaign and evaluative research, which is used to evaluate the effectiveness of the marketing communications campaign. There is frequent disappointment with the limitations of research. Planners are often confused with tests that only measure communications effects, such as awareness and recall. There are few tests which isolate and reveal a direct causal relationship between advertising and sales.

iii. Disagreement over What to Test:

It is very often difficult to ascertain as to which aspect of the campaign to test. The sales manager may want to assess the impact of promotion on sales, whereas the corporate hierarchy may be more concerned about the company’s image. Disputes over what to test can sometimes lead to no testing.

iv. Creativity Objections:

Most creative people do not like copy testing. They say it inhibits their creativity. Because many tests are inexact and measure only one aspect of communication, such as awareness, copywriters often protest that they do not measure the full impact of an ad.

v. Time:

Copy testing and other effectiveness measures take time; executive judgment and creative decisions must sometimes be made quickly.

2. When and What to Measure:

There are at least four stages of a campaign during which it is common to use some type of evaluative testing:

i. At the beginning of the creative process i.e., concept testing

ii. In the middle and at the end of the creative process i.e., copy testing

iii. While the advertising is appearing in the media i.e., concurrent testing

iv. After the advertising has appeared in the media i.e., post testing.

3. Concept Testing:

Concept testing is a form of evaluative testing used by planners to get a feel for whether their ideas and strategies are likely to be on target. The purpose of this type of testing is to get feedback from the customers before a lot of time, money and efforts are spent on producing expensive ads. Concept testing is as much a check on the strategic development of the campaign as it is on specific executions. The testing tends to be somewhat exploratory in nature, although a frame work of ideas and concepts have been developed.

Among the concepts which are evaluated are product names, slogans, campaign themes, advertising claims or promises and the basic product positioning. Later during the copy-testing phase, specific variables that affect the execution of an ad can be tested (such as the selection of music, choice of words use of art or humour, and arrangement of these elements). This is also a good stage to evaluate end users. Celebrity endorsement is usually expensive hence it is imperative to get some feedback on it before contracts are signed.

Because concept testing tends to be exploratory in nature, the research techniques tend to be more qualitative than other types of testing.

Among the more common ways of gathering information are the following:

(a) Focus Groups

(b) Mall intercepts

(c) One to One interview.

One of the keys to obtaining information that is meaningful is being sure that the subjects in the test groups are representative of the target audience. In evaluative research, it is better to measure the effects of an ad on an individual consumer without the potential biases that sometimes result from one member of a group influencing another.

Because of potential problems with interaction effects, mail intercepts and one to one interviews are generally more appropriate for concept testing. The information obtained from concept testing is generally used to firm up message strategy as well as to evaluate the elements within the strategy.

4. Copy Testing:

Most of the evaluative research conducted by companies and the agencies falls into the category of copy testing. Because the testing takes place before the ads are run in the media it is often referred to as pretesting.

Copy testing is normally used to predict the effectiveness of an advertisement or a campaign. It also helps understand the advertisement so it can be developed further. Copy testing is efficacious in identifying television commercials that generate sales. Although this is helpful information to know, the typical copy testing is not able to establish a functional relationship between an ad and sales.

The value of most copy tests is derived from the ability of the test to evaluate the effectiveness of an ad defined in terms of some criterion such as awareness, presentation or reliability. There are two types of tests; diagnostics, to help planners understand the strengths and weaknesses of an ad; and evaluative tests, which commonly focus on one of three criteria – communication playback, reliability and persuasion.

Diagnostics is a type of testing designed to improve ads. In very rare case a diagnostic test tells a creative person how to improve a commercial, however they suggest what is wrong in an ad. These tests are used to pretest television commercials at the rough stage. In a typical 30 second commercial there Eire numerous scenes and within each scene there are a number of elements that can be manipulated.

In a general diagnostics test, viewers are exposed to a television commercial and then subjected to a series of open-ended questions about reactions to specific elements as well as structured statements to which they indicate their agreement or disagreement.

Frame by Frame Diagnostics:

They are frequently used to help marketers understand why a television commercial has not tested very well. These tests can provide clues as to which parts of a commercial are connecting with viewers and which parts of a commercial do not. Frame-by-Frame tests evaluate consumers reactions to the individual scenes in the advertisement. The consumers are invited to a mini theatre to view a series of commercials.

The viewers are instructed to press buttons indicating how much they like or dislike what they are seeing. Later an interviewer queries audience members about the reasons for their reactions to specific scenes. Frame-by-Frame diagnostics provide the researcher with clues as to the parts within the advertisement that work well and those that do not. These clues can be used to guide the creative team.

Communication Playback:

It is a type of test used for both diagnostic and evaluative purposes. The intent of this test is to evaluate whether or not the essential points within an ad have been communicated. The ability of respondents to recall specific information about an ad is an important measure of effectiveness. Viewers are often asked to re-create visual and verbal elements of an ad in their own words. Researchers usually pay special attention to the consumers recall of the brand name, specific attributes or qualities of the product, the main selling message, reactions to music, special effects, main characters, key phrases, and story lines.

Physiological Techniques:

These techniques are designed to measure the physiological responses of the viewer’s sensory system. Two most commonly used devices are the tachistoscope, or t-scope and eye-movement camera.

1. The tachitoscope or t-scope is like a slide projector with a shutter attached to it that is able to vary the amount of time picture is shown on a screen. In the beginning of the test, the image of the ad will flash on the screen so briefly that it will be below a respondents threshold of awareness. Gradually as the researcher lengthens the amount of time the images are on the screen, viewers are increasingly able to perceive various elements or messages in the ad. Interviewers then question respondents about the advertisement.

2. In the eye-movement camera, viewers are seated in front of a desk with a large mechanical device. While they are viewing test ads, a sensor directs an almost invisible beam of infrared light at one of the viewer’s eyes. The beam follows the viewer’s eye and superimpose the path the eyes follow onto a layout of the ad. An analyst is then able to determine which element in the ad first received the viewers’ attention (that is dominant point of entry), which path the viewer followed next within the ad and finally, how much time each element was viewed.

The above physiological techniques are suitable for testing of advertisements designed for print media; howsoever measuring television commercials can be tedious and expensive. So researchers test them in a wide range of forms. An unfinished ad is subjected to the viewers and they are asked to give their views on them.

The following are among the most common stages of unfinished commercials used in tests:

1. Storyboards – A series of visceral forms and serial of key audio used to represent a proposed commercial.

2. Animatic – A film or of a series of drawing with audio used to represent a proposed commercial.

3. Photometric – Film or videotape of a series of photographs with audio used to represent a proposed commercial.

4. Repomatic – Footage taken from other existing commercials and spliced together.

5. Liveamatic – Video tape of live endorser photographed for a proposed commercial, can be close to a finished commercial but does not necessarily use actual sets or celebrity who will be used in the actual commercial.

Requirements of a Good Copy Testing:

i. The copy testing system should provide measurements that are relevant to the objectives of advertising.

ii. A good copy testing is one that requires agreements about how the result will be used in advance of each specific test.

iii. A good copy testing system should provide for multiple measurements because single measurements are generally inadequate to access the performance of an ad.

iv. A good copy testing system should be based on a model of human response to communication the reception of a stimulus, the comprehension of a stimulus and the response of the stimulus.

v. A good copy testing system recognizes that the more finished a piece of copy is, the more soundly it can be evaluated.

5. Concurrent Testing:

This type of testing refers to reaction that takes place while the campaign is running in the market place. It can be of two types Tracking studies and Coincidental studies.

i. Tracking Studies:

The basic idea behind tracking is to keep a close contact with what consumers are thinking, feeling and doing.

Companies want to know about:

1. Awareness of the product and Brand

2. Attitude of the customer

3. Communication efficacy

4. Reported product usage

5. Satisfaction drive

The techniques for tracking studies are:

1. Telephone Interview with customers to identify their response to the Ad.

2. Diaries – Consumers are asked to keep a record of various activities such as brand purchase, brand switches and response to sales promotional campaigns.

3. Mall intercepts – Interviewing the customer at the point of purchase.

4. Product audits – To analyse the movement of advertised brand from the points of purchase.

ii. Coincidental techniques are designed mainly to evaluate or measure advertising and media usage. While consumers are exposed to the media, the telephone interview is the principle means by which information is obtained. The interviewers usually ask questions pertaining to what the respondents were doing just before they answered the telephone. The advantage of this technique is reduction in measurement error due to memory loss. The technique is rarely used now days.

Post Testing:

Post testing refers to testing at the end of the campaign whereas concurrent testing is done for an ongoing campaign.

Post testing can be divided into two types:

1. Test measuring communication effects,

2. Test measuring behavioural effects.

The following criteria are among the most popular used for post testing:

i. Recognition (A communication effect)

ii. Recall

iii. Attitudes, Awareness and Likeability

iv. Sales (Behavioural effect)

v. Enquiries.

Advertising Research – Purposes of Development: Idea Generation, Concept Testing, Audience Definition and Audience Profiling

Developmental advertising research is used to generate advertising opportunities and messages. It helps the creative and the account team figure out things such as the target audience’s identity, “street language”, usage expectations, history, and context.

It provides critical information used by creatives in actually producing ads. It is conducted early in the process so there is still an opportunity to influence the way the ads come out. Because of this, many consider it the most valuable kind of advertising research.

The purposes served by developmental research include the following:

1. Idea Generation:

Sometimes an ad agency is called on to invent new ways of presenting an advertised good or service to a target audience. The outcome might take the form of a new product launch or a repositioning strategy for an advertiser.

For example, after many years of representing its parks as the ultimate family destination, Disney and its ad agencies have now positioned its theme parks as adult vacation alternatives for couples whose children have grown and gone off on their own.

Where does an advertiser get ideas for new and meaningful ways to portray a brand? Direct contact with the customer can be an excellent place to start. Qualitative research involving observation of customers, brainstorming sessions with customers, and extended interviews with customers can be great devices for fostering fresh thinking about a brand.

(Disney probably got its idea for repositioning by simply observing how many older couples were visiting its parks without children in tow!) Direct contact with and aggressive listening to the customer can fuel the creative process at the heart of nay great advertising campaign. It can also be a great way to anticipate and shape marketplace trends.

2. Concept Testing:

Many times advertisers also need feedback about new ideas before they spend a lot of money to turn the idea into a new marketing or advertising initiative. A concept test seeks feedback designed to screen the quality of a new idea, using consumes as the final judge and jury.

Concept testing may be used to screen new ideas for specific advertisements or to assess new product concepts. How the product fits current needs and how much consumers are willing to pay for new product are questions a concept test attempts to answer. For example, are consumers willing to cover their teeth with white flexible strips in order to brighten up their smiles?

Crest certainly hopes so. Concept test of many kinds are commonly included as part of the agenda of focus groups to get quick feedback on new product or advertising ideas. Concept testing is also executed via survey research when more generalization feedback is desired.

3. Audience Definition:

Market segmentation and targeting are among the first and most important marketing decisions a firm must make. The goal of market segmentation is to identify target audiences that represent the best match between the firm’s market offering and consumers’ needs and desires, and then target them with effective advertising. Basic data about audience sizes along with their demographic profiles are absolutely critical in this process. Furthermore, new market opportunities are commonly discovered when you get to know your audience.

4. Audience Profiling:

Perhaps the most important service provided by developmental advertising research is the profiling of target audiences for the creative. Creative need to know as much as they can about the people to whom their ads will speak. This research is done in many ways. One of the most popular is through lifestyle research.

Lifestyle research, also known as AIO (activities, interests, and opinions) research, uses survey data from consumers who have answered questions about themselves. From the answers to a wide variety of such questions, advertiser can get a pretty good profile of the consumers they are most interested in talking to. Since the data also contain other product usage questions, advertisers can account for a consumption lifestyle as well.

For example, it may turn out that the target for a brand of roach killer consists of male consumers, age 35 to 45, living in larger cities, who are more afraid of “unseen dirt” than most people and who think of themselves as extremely organized and bothered by messes. Maybe they also tend to enjoy hunting more than average, and tend to the gun owners.

They read Guns and Ammo and watch America’s Most Wanted. Profile like this present the creative staff with a finer grained picture of the target audience and their needs, wants, and motivations. Of course, the answers to these questions are only as valuable as the questions are valid. In-depth interviews with individual consumers provide an excellent source of information to supplement the findings from AIO research.

Advertising Research – Development Methods: Focus Groups, Field Work and Other Methods

Several methods are used in developing advertising research.

1. Focus Groups:

A focus group is a brainstorming session with 6 to 12 target customers who have been brought together to come up with new insights about the good or service. With a professional moderator guiding the discussion, the consumers are first asked some general questions; then, as the session progresses, the questioning becomes more focused and moves to detailed issues about the brand in question.

Advertisers tend to like focus groups because they can understand them and observe the data being collected. While focus groups provide an opportunity for in depth discussion with consumers, they are not without limitations.

Even multiple focus groups represent a very small sample of the target audience, and advertisers must remember that generalization is not the goal. The real goal is to get or test a new idea and gain depth of information. Greater depth of information allows for a greater understanding of the context of actual usage and its subtleties.

It also takes great skill to lead focus groups effectively. If the group does not have a well trained and experienced moderator, some individuals will completely dominate the others. Focus group members also feel empowered and privileged them have been made expert by their selection, and they will sometimes give the moderator all sorts of strange answers that may be more a function of trying to impress other group members than anything having to do with the product in question.

2. Field Work:

Field work is conducted outside the agency (i.e., in the “field”), usually in the home or site of consumption. Its purpose is to learn from the experiences of the consumer and from direct observation. Consumers live real lives, and their behaviour as consumers is intertwined throughout these real lives.

More and more researchers are attempting to capture more of the real experiences of consumers. Advertising researchers can make better messages if they understand the lives of their target audience, and understand it in some rich context. Various types of qualitative research attempt to do this.

This general type of research uses prolonged observation and in depth study of individuals or small groups of consumers, typically in their own social environment. This work is usually accomplished through field work, or going to where the consumer lives and consumes.

The advertising industry has long appreciated the value of qualitative data and is currently moving to even more strongly embrace extended types of fieldwork. Cool hunts do this by getting researchers to actually go to the site where they believe cool resides, stalk it, and bring it back to be used in the product and its advertising.

Other Methods:

Projective techniques are designed to allow consumers to project thoughts and feelings (conscious or unconscious) in an indirect and unobtrusive way onto a theoretically neutral stimulus. Projective techniques share a history with Freudian psychology and depend on notions of unconscious or even repressed thoughts. Projective techniques often consist of offering consumers fragments of pictures or words and asking them to complete the fragment.

The most common projective techniques are association tests, sentence or picture completion, dialogue balloons, and story construction. While there is little doubt that people can, and do, project, the trustworthiness, validity, and usefulness of these techniques are often suspect.

Association tests ask consumes to express their feelings or thoughts after hearing a brand name or seeing a logo. In sentence and picture completion, a researcher presents consumers with part of a picture and sentence with words deleted and then asks that the stimulus be completed.

The picture or sentence relates to one or several brands of products in the category of interest. For example, a sentence completion task might be- Most American made cars are……….. The basic idea is to elicit honest thoughts and feelings.

Of course, consumers usually have some idea of what the researcher is looking for. Still, one can get some reasonably good data from this method.

Sometimes dialogue balloons offer consumers the chance to fill in the dialogue of cartoon like stories, much like those in the comics in the Sunday paper. The story usually has to do with a product use situation. Story construction asks consumers to tell a story about people depicted in a scene or picture.

Respondents might be asked to tell a story about the personalities of the people in the scene, what they are doing, what they were doing just before this scene, what type of car they drive, and what type of house they live in. Again, the idea is to use a less direct method to less obtrusively bring to the surface some often unconscious mapping of the brand and its associations.

One specific method that has enjoyed growing popularity in developmental applications is the Zaitman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET). This technique claims to draw out people’s buried thoughts and feelings about products and brand by encouraging participants to think in terms of metaphors.

A metaphor simply involves defining one thing in terms of another. ZMET draws metaphors from consumers by asking them to spend time thinking about how they would visually represent their experiences with a particular product or service. Participants are asked to make a collection of photographs and pictures from magazines that reflect their experience.

For example, in the research conducted for DuPont, which supplies raw material for many pantyhose marketers, one person’s picture of spilled ice cream reflected her deep disappointment when she spots a run in her hose.

In depth interviews with several dozen of these metaphor-collecting consumes can often reveal new insights about consumers’ consumption motives, which then may be useful in the creation of products and ad campaigns to appeal to those motives.

Advertising Research – Problems

The problems generally faced in the advertising research are:

a. Weakness in research methodology

b. The time and cost constraints

c. The problematic effect of advertising on sales

It is experienced that, difficulty arises due to the inherent problems in the research methodology. The advertising research involves lot of time and cost and the top management feels frustrated due to delay in result or findings.

A. The ‘Pre-test’ Methods may be analysed as follows:

1. Comprehension and Reaction Test:

The advertiser is interested to know whether the ad or commercials convey the meaning intended. The message generated should be translated in the same fashion as intended by the advertiser. Advertisers are also interested to know the reactions of the ad and effects on the consumers. Generally to test the comprehension and reaction, the advertisers and the agencies conduct personal interviews, group interviews, in-depth interviews etc. from the sample size of respondents ranging from 50 to 200.

2. Consumer-Jury Test:

A panel of jury is selected from the representative target market to evaluate the effectiveness of the ad designed for the purpose of campaign. The panel members are asked to rate a collection of ad copy or layouts, and are requested to give their comments and ranking according to their preferences. This method is generally accepted as representative view points of the prospective audience.

The limitations of this method cannot be overlooked.

The negative aspects of this methodology may be pointed out as follows:

1. The jury members often feel themselves as self-appointed experts – Being appointed as a jury member, a person sometimes tries to play the role of a critique, unnecessarily overstressing minor issues. The basic object of evaluation of the general perception of the ad exposure may be frustrated, if this approach is followed by the jury members.

2. Ranking in order of merit or paired comparison method is tedious boring task – The jury members face difficulties in ranking the ad layout if the number of ad alternatives are large. Supposing that, in case of 10 ads, it may be ranked comfortably the best two ads or the worst two ads. But the ranking of all the ads in order of merit or based on paired comparison method, it will be quite cumbersome and boring job for the respondents with increasing number of alternatives.

In paired comparison method, the number of evaluations required is calculated with the help of the formula,

45 evaluations should be made. With the increase of the number of ads, it will become unmanageable herculean task. The jury members will be disinterested to pursue this exercise.

3. A Halo effect may defeat the objective – It may be possible that a particular jury might either rank an ad to be totally good or bad without considering all the attributes or by overlooking the specific aspects. In such a case there is a possibility of the defeat of evaluation.

4. Specific aspects of advertisement may overshadow the objectivity – The advertising copy, the message or the appeal may be overshadowed by the influence of colourful attractive pictures or other emotional effects. The jurists may be over-influenced unnecessarily on less important but more highlighted issues.

B. Post Tests of Broadcast Commercials:

1. Day-After Recall Tests:

In broadcasting media Burke Day-after recall test is a well-known methodology, generally practiced by the experts in the field. This form of test may be useful for the organisations if the tests are conducted on large number of samples which will involve lot of cost.

The limitations of this type of test are as follows:

i. In day-after recall (DAR) tests the respondents are asked to verbalize the message. Hence the emotional appeals are neglected in this test.

ii. The recall scores depend on the influence of the programmes in which the ad appears. Hence the scores may vary in different programmes.

iii. If the respondents are aware that they will be tested on the next day, the participants shall pay more attention on the commercials. Naturally, the recall test result shall not reflect the actual level of recall.

In spite of the above disadvantages the DAR tests are conducted on natural setting in the field and shall provide more realistic response profile.

2. Test Marketing:

It is a method to test the commercials in specific selected test markets, before releasing the advertisement for full-run in the national market. In this form of testing, a high degree of control can be attained if the test is designed successfully. A variety of factors may be tested, including reactions to the ads, special offers, effects of various budget sizes etc.

Seagram and Time Inc., conducted test marketing study at different selected markets for over three years. The study revealed that, proper research can provide strong insights into the impact of ad campaigns. The study also focussed to identify the effects of advertising frequency on consumers’ buying habits.

The limitations of this methodology may be described as follows:

i. It is a very costly affair.

ii. It is quite time consuming process.

iii. The competitors may intrude and intervene in the research process.

If the negative aspects can be effectively minimised this process of testing methodology shall provide sufficient insight into the effectiveness of advertising, in a controlled natural field setting.