As ad professionals with both client side and longtime agency experience, we’ve often wondered about the lack of pretesting done on ad campaigns. Doesn’t it make sense to gauge the perceived value of advertising among its intended audience before final production and media money is spent?
As the size of the advertising budget grows, the stakes get higher. Without pretesting, you may never discover potential messaging flaws. You could easily spend good money failing to get the audience’s attention. Or even worse, you could succeed in getting attention only to create the wrong perception. Either way, a loss of awareness and sales will likely result.
Here are our responses to some of the typical objections raised regarding pretesting of ads:
- Pretesting is expensive. Yes, it costs money. But in our experience, it’s worth it. If necessary, reduce media spending somewhat to cover the cost. More often than not, pretesting will pay for itself by helping you spend your ad dollars more effectively.
- Research results don’t always reflect a participant’s real beliefs or behavior. This is typically attributed to the fact that pretesting is done within an artificial setting, encouraging respondents to assume the role of “ad critic.” Fortunately, there are pretesting techniques to help prevent this problem, and skilled facilitators know how to use them.
- Ad pretesting is only for consumer brands. Most B2B campaigns have the same needs for proper messaging as those aimed at consumers. The wrong messaging can create just as many problems for a B2B brand as it does for a consumer one.
- “I don’t want to base my marketing decisions on such a small sample of my market.”We’re not suggesting that pretesting should be a go or no go decision-making tool. Used properly, pretesting will add a dimension to your own judgment and creative capabilities—giving you a well-balanced and more informed conclusion.
Instead of expecting agency and client personnel to be mind readers, why not ensure your advertising is effective and your money well spent? Granted, pretesting may not provide a foolproof guarantee of campaign success. But it can prevent major errors. Most likely, it will identify possible improvements to the advertising that will help it deliver better ROI.