Why You Should Be Post-Testing Your Ads and How to Do It

When it comes to maximizing the effectiveness of ad and copy testing, measuring the impact of creative once it has launched is just as important as preliminary testing. Post-testing creative allows advertisers to understand how their ad performed, engaging people that saw the finished product to gauge any changes in purchase intent or brand perception, as well as to compare the ad’s actual reception with your market research-based predictions. Conducting comprehensive research that accounts for initial attitudes and subsequent reactions will help not only explain the efficacy of the current ad, but also inform the development of future creative by indicating how well respondents’ voices were heard, or even where they differed from the actual audience.

Post-Testing 101

The beauty of post-testing is that it is research with stakes: in other words, the stimuli being tested are not concepts or rough drafts, but the real deal. Post-testing can thus answer a wider variety of questions with more specificity, since you are no longer dealing with hypotheticals or estimations. Another benefit is the reduced cost of research, since you don’t have to spend resources on developing multiple stimuli or conducting successive rounds. All this combines to make post-testing essentially more accurate, simpler, and less expensive.

We’ve already discussed methods for getting the most out of your creative research and conducting it as effectively as possible. But these tips pertain to pre-testing: consumer insights and feedback you’ve gleaned while still developing your campaign and testing concepts. This prior creative research will lay the foundation for your post-testing, determining the benchmarks by which you will measure your ad’s success. For example, if you pre-test your ads for audience attention, message takeaway, and brand recall, then you should post-test for these metrics as well in order to compare how you expected the ad to perform with how it really did. But there are some metrics that only become useful in post-testing: asking if viewers feel more likely to recommend the brand or use the service after viewing the ad, for instance.

Here are just a few approaches to post-testing that may be suitable to your research needs:

1. Follow Up with Your Audience. After an ad goes on the air, brands can ask consumers who have seen it to evaluate the ad based on the same metrics employed in pre-testing, shedding light on how effectively your team leverages pre-testing feedback. You can either follow up with the same set of respondents, or recruit a fresh set of targeted participants; so long as the metrics used for assessment are consistent across pre- and post-testing.

2. Compare Brand Equity Before and After. Measuring the impact of an ad before and after it goes live gives you the opportunity to evaluate any differences in brand perception and equity. Waiting a few months after the ad has aired to measure changes in purchasing behaviors and brand interactions among your target audience will help you to see if your advertisement’s message was received, as well as its impact on your overall brand.

3. Leverage Big Data. Another cost-effective way to weigh your ad’s efficacy is to use passively collected data to target the people you think might have seen your advertisement. This will allow you to glean meaningful insights from a relevant audience without necessarily having had them pre-test your ad.

4. Qualitative Pre-Test, Quantitative Post-Test. When dealing with undercooked stimuli and ad concepts, it’s important to conduct qualitative research that allows respondents to offer detailed and subjective feedback in order to optimize the connection your creative is striving to make. But the goals of post-testing are more investigative than exploratory, and thus quantitative research may prove more useful. Especially when post-testing multiple ads or assessing associations between factors like age and location, quantitative data can provide the objective validation needed to make meaningful changes to future creative development.

If you need to determine the ROI of your advertisement, pre- and post-testing your ad offers a holistic assessment of its impact on both your target audience and your brand equity. For an example of how a major personal care brand used Pre-LinkNowTM to conduct effective creative research to optimize ad performance and lay the groundwork for actionable post-testing, check out the case study below.

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