In pondering what to write about this week, I took a look back over the past six blogs posts. I realized that we had gotten way ahead of ourselves. Here we were, sitting at our desks throwing out research jargon like it was yesterday’s trash, without sharing how we actually determine if an ad is great or lackluster or if it’s fixable or not. Now, sometimes, when we look at the numbers it might seem like an ad is beyond hope. But really, the coolest part of our day is looking at an ad and realizing a tiny little tweak might take an ad that looks like branding is unsalvageable to an ad that you couldn’t help but remember what it was for. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s what I thought we’d do. Over the next month or so, we’ll be getting back to basics. What’s that old acronym? K-I-S-S: Keep it Simple Stupid. That’s what we’re going to be doing. Of course, we’ll keep talking about ads. But hopefully, with a little background under your belt, it will all be a bit more enjoyable. And now, with no further ado…Attention.

Nearly all pre-testing companies have some way to measure “breakthrough” or recall. This measure allows a company to see how well an ad will capture an audience, thus allowing its message to be communicated. Here at Ameritest, we stick with “breakthrough” or Attention. Recall is all fine and good, but it doesn’t give proper credit to emotional based ads or those where the brand isn’t shown early or often. We find that advertising doesn’t work on a one-dimensional basis. The point of some ads is to communicate rational, product/benefit related features while others tug on your heartstrings or work by being interesting, involving or unique. Now, I won’t go into the nitty gritty of how our methodology is different from our, ahem, competitors as I’d hate to seem untoward. For now, here’s the lowdown on what makes our Attention score tick.

We consider Attention to be a direct measure of an ad’s ability to win in a street fight for the audience’s attention. Using TV as an example, the test ad is shown with four other ads in a clutter reel environment to create the feel of a commercial break on television. Now, these ads are randomly shown to eliminate the chance of any funny business with the numbers. After watching the clutter, survey respondents are asked the the question, “Which commercials, if any, did you find interesting?” Note: We do not ask which ones they liked. An ad doesn’t have to be liked in order to grab your Attention. Think about those Burger King spots. Anyhow, if the respondent spontaneously mentions the test ad, it counts toward the attention score. Easy as that. Now you may be asking yourself, what about print ads, digital ads, etc.? The method is the same. We simply adjust the number of clutter ads (i.e. nine for print studies to mimic flipping through a magazine) and how they’re presented (i.e. within the context of a mock-webpage for digital).

The cool thing is that this measure doesn’t just measure memory. When we combine it with brand linkage (a conversation for a later date), it is found to correlate well with awareness measures from recognition-based in-market tracking studies.

Please stay tuned for next time when we talk about pictures…and how they’re worth a thousand words and more.

Sonya Duran is an Associate Research Director at Ameritest and would love to hear your feedback. If you’re too bashful to do so publicly, please e-mail her with any questions or comments or just to say, “hi,” at