This week and next, we will look at how the research techniques fall in each quadrant, starting in the historical order in which they were developed.

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Let’s begin today with the lower left and right quadrants.

Lower Right Quadrant: Remembered Self/System 2 Thinking

The oldest pre-testing technique, dating back to the 1950s, is to measure the effectiveness of an ad with a recall test. Day-after-recall testing, and its companion, in-market telephone tracking studies of ad awareness, was the dominant research methodology used during the days of Mad Men.

The mental model of advertising that this kind of research is based on is the simple logic that for an ad to have an impact on future sales behavior, it must leave behind some kind of memory trace in the mind of the consumer.

Even today, mainstream online pre-testing systems, such as Ameritest, ASI and Millward-Brown, rely heavily on verbal self-report measures such as attention, brand linkage, communication, motivation or purchase intent, rating statements and open ended questions about respondents’ memories of their reactions to an advertisement.

Such verbal probing of a respondent is clearly a System 2 Thinking activity.

Lower Left Quadrant: Experiencer Self/System 2 Thinking

One of the earliest techniques that acknowledged the difference between how an ad is remembered as a whole gestalt and how it is experienced in real time, moment by moment, was to use a dial meter that respondents would turn as they viewed an ad, to signal their feelings as they introspectively watched themselves watching the ad.

This real-time process of introspection, as well as the conscience need to focus attention on moving the dial (or today a mouse)—loosely akin to the process of channel surfing when watching real television—keeps this technique strongly rooted in System 2 Thinking.

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