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The changing face of market research

With news that advertising agencies are expected to rake in a record £6bn over the Christmas period, it’s never been more important for advertisers to ensure that their creative works. What role can market research play in the process?

Advertising appears deceptively easy. Successful campaigns are instantly recalled, occupying a special place in the public’s heart for years. Love them or hate them, Cadbury’s gorilla, Compare the Market’s Alexandr Orlov and Go Compare’s tenor Gio Compario are all recent examples of the results of effective advertising. Increasingly, advertising takes on its own narrative and storylines, compelling consumers to follow and invest in its characters, plots and worlds; and in turn, brands.

But the white noise of advertising is louder than ever. And for every major hit, there are thousands, if not millions, which sink into the advertising abyss; never to be seen again. Some of them even have the potential to take their brands’ reputations down with them.

Using pre-testing to optimise creative

There is a common denominator across all successful advertising; good creative. To be a success, advertising needs creative that is well branded, has a clear single-minded message, is engaging, and motivates. Importantly, it has to inspire an action.

It also creates an entirely believable world or narrative.  A gorilla that can play the drums or a meerkat with the power of speech – albeit an unexplained (and arguably poor) East European accent – surely belong in the realms of fantasy. But effective creative brings them to life.

We know that 65% of marketing ROI is driven by creative. Yet over 90% of creative is never tested. It is without doubt the most important, but least managed market driver of success*. And it is the one which could make all the difference.

Pre-testing – a process which uses facial coding to find out what consumers really feel and think – allows brands to optimise their advertising, launching ads with the best business potential.

Effective testing, effective creative, effective ads

Armed with pre-testing, brands can make sure that their creative works harder. It also gives brands the tools to take their advertising to the market with confidence.

The process of pre-testing involves asking audiences which key messages are coming through (both spontaneously and prompted), finding out the likes and dislikes, and asking who the ad is for are all key elements of pre-testing.

The nature of online research means respondents gladly feedback on both positives and negatives without hesitation, giving brands a detailed insight into how their advertising will be received and what they can do to optimise it.

Pre-testing with Populus

Populus’s pre-testing service allows brands to optimise their advertising. Our approach is entirely bespoke, unique to each client. It’s for this reason that we don’t have a model that predicts in market success, for lots of reasons; what constitutes as success can vary from campaign to campaign, sales success has many influencers, and if an ad follows our philosophy, we believe it will be successful.

Facial coding is integrated within pre-testing, to provide a second-by-second analysis of people’s emotional responses to the ad. This gives a comprehensive overview of how creative is working, and allows clients to fully optimise it.

Find out more about Populus’s Pre-Testing service here.

Optimise advertising with Populus Pre-Testing by contacting Populus’s Brand & Communications team. Call +44 [0]20 7253 9900 or email info@populus.co.uk.

*Prof Gerald Zaltman, Harvard Business School, ‘How customers Think’ (p40.), 2011 

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