Home > Business related > Is ad pre-testing a waste of money?

Is ad pre-testing a waste of money?

Is ad pre-testing a waste of money? I don’t think it is. Books get reviewed before being published and movies are pre-screened before their release; so why shouldn’t advertisements be pre-tested? The costs of the testing come at a fraction of the actual ad costs; and the benefits are well worth it, as pre-testing aids in generating “relevant attention” (McKee, 2008). As a matter of fact, with relevant ads, companies end up benefiting in the long-term, as “less media money [is needed] to be spent on achieving frequency and more available for increasing reach, since cut-through occurs faster” (Agee).

In today’s technologically connected world, companies must be especially careful with their advertising. Although a company might be releasing an advertisement for a specific region, its reach could become global, via web technologies {youtube, facebook, blogs, etc} – especially with ads that generate reactions at the extremes: if an ad is brilliant or horrible. So, with the help of pre-testing, companies increase their chances of outputting brilliant ads, all the while steering away from potential pitfall.

We shall also not forget that the non-technical world is also connected, as a by-product of globalization; products/services are constantly crossing borders. Pre-testing becomes especially important, as a successful ad in one country, could have a whole different meaning in another. There is a story that goes along the lines of a cola company placing an ad in the Middle East made up of two adjacent pictures: the first is of a man lying in the dessert exhausted from the heat, the second is the man all refreshed after drinking the cola. Though the ad was successful in the West, it was a complete failure in the Middle East, as Arabs read from right-to-left (thus the message they understood was: if you drink the cola, you will die). “Ad testing [serves] to sniff out potential pitfalls in the ad” (Sara), increasing the ad’s potential to be as effective as possible.

“The new currency is measuring engagement” (Businessweek); the more an advertisement has an “emotional impact” (Walid), the higher the chances of converting the advertising costs to consumer purchases. Thus pre-testing plays a crucial role:

  • In the early life stages of a product/service; as no connection exist with the customer
  • With creative or controversial ads; as consumer’s reaction is unknown.

Some companies claim that pre-testing can’t predict the real-world, as the testers usually “select the strategy that is less differentiated..[thinking they are being critical] as they munch on nachos … on a Sunday afternoon” (McKee, 2007); effectively killing ad creativity. Countless examples are raised of how some ads failed pre-testing, yet were extremely successful with consumers.

Although the science of pre-testing is still imperfect, but the solution is not to stop it altogether; we must remember that countless other examples also exist on the flip side of the coin: brands saved from bad advertisement at the pre-testing phase. As technologies advance, testing methods are becoming much more accurate. Also, companies are increasing the size of the test groups in creative ways, yielding more accurate results; for example, Google has done so by taking user-generated video entries when creating their Gmail commercial (Google’s email solution). Pre-testing should be used as a “compass … to explore … and not [like] a map” (McKee, 2007).

~ Youssef Aboul-Naja

  1. Wassim A. N.
    January 19, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    V. Good as usual. I also agree with your conclusion

  2. January 21, 2010 at 2:40 AM

    Haven’t seen that cola ad, but it’s such a great example! I also root for pre-testing. It helps know your audience, and gives a return on your investment in the long run.

    Nice post!

  3. October 4, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    Simply want to say your article is as surprising. The clarity on your publish is just nice and that i can assume
    you’re an expert in this subject. Fine together with your permission allow me to snatch your
    RSS feed to stay updated with forthcoming post. Thanks
    one million and please carry on the rewarding

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: