As brands face ever-tightening research budgets and increasingly cluttered categories, many are seeking ways to maximize the research that they do. That doesn’t mean longer surveys, which are out of the question with today’s inundated consumer. These conditions mean one thing when it comes to research: better survey design.
Communications testing, still referred to as copy-testing by many brands, focuses on a single ad or perhaps a few ads in a campaign. And very often the brand questions asked are ad-focused and don’t address the wider world the brand must succeed within. Questions in ad testing are commonly about things as simple as the brand name. Was the brand recalled well? Did the viewer feel good things and think good thoughts about it and what the brand trying to say? These are not useless questions, but they are not enough if what the brand needs to know is more than that, and about their role in the category they operate in and the role they play in the story they are telling.
When evaluating the effectiveness of brand creative including a category perspective allows the advertiser to know if the communications are evolving the brand from its current position in the category, without creating a disconnect. Is the brand telling a story that fits it like a custom-tailored suit, or is it a story that could fit any brand in the category? These questions need to be asked, along with others, that give the advertiser a measurement for success that uses their category, and not just the ad, as a point of reference.
But the research design must not stop there. It must use visual language to query the emotional structure at work in the ad and, importantly, if that structure is the most powerful one that can be used by the brand for where it is in its growth. Is the brand a hero, coming to the rescue to solve a problem? Is it the standard-bearer of a positive experience from the get-go? Or does the brand take a bow at the end of the story, revealing itself as the enabler of a great result—and getting credit for it? These questions and others can best be answered without verbal query of the rational mind. Instead, revealing how the ad is being co-created by the viewer with the advertiser, through the language of visuals, is the ultimate test of the brand’s success—and thus the success of the communication itself.
And all of this evaluation is viewed through the lens of answering the question was this communication successful for the brand? Because a successful ad that works as a story but does not build the brand is not advertising; it is entertainment.
As we continue to solve business problems for our clients, we must be even more rigorous that our research design solve for brand success, and not simply story success. The ultimate measure of effectiveness is not to engage with provocative, funny or moving bits of film. It’s to move viewers of those films ever-closer to brand engagement.
This is a question that is relevant at any time, but during a pandemic the subject takes on a particular kind of importance. Emotions are running high, and the kind...