In most things in life, you can’t flourish without taking a few risks.  Advertising is no exception.  A well-done ad campaign can lead a business to great success; a bad one can alienate customers and put the enterprise on the road to ruin. 
Whether you are wanting to make the right decision fast or to create a rich data driven content strategy. The reputation of your brand on the line, it’s important to get your message right the first time, and that’s where advertising testing comes in.

So what is ad testing?  Simply put, it’s the process of trialing an advertisement with a small sample audience before releasing it to a wider market.  Whether it’s five seconds of a commercial, a new billboard, or a brand-new, year-long campaign, testing the waters with your ads can make all the difference when it comes to how they land with your target consumers.  Here’s how to make the most out of your ad testing programs.

If you didn’t know before now, there are a number of different organisations and solutions out there to help you conduct advertising testing. You can now conduct advertising, concept testing and so much more on Survey Monkey who have released their brand new solution!

Research the Market

Before you can think of an ad, you must first understand the context in which you will be releasing it. To create a successful ad campaign, your marketers—whether in-house or third party—will need information on who you hope to reach through your advertisements to inspire them.  As the most open-ended part of the ad testing process, resist the urge to box yourself in; provide as much as you can (even from unlikely sources) for your copywriters to really let them get their creative juices flowing.

Refine Your Concept

Your research into your target audience should offer you the insight you need to refine your ad concept from a broad, vague idea into something concrete and testable with sample test group.  While at this stage you may not be able to discern how successful an advertisement will be, you can at least decide whether you think the idea behind it aligns with the image of your company that you want to project without first sinking in the cost of pulling the whole campaign together.  This will help you not only evaluate the concept of individual ads, but could also potentially guide your ad strategy for years to come.

Pre-Test

The goal of advertising is to fortify brand loyalty in current customers and convert others into new customers.  Pre-testing will give you a baseline to work with once you gather impressions from your testing pool about how they think of your brand absent of the influence of the ad campaign you are testing.  In a pre-test, you can gauge the reactions of your sample audience and decide whether you’d like to proceed with releasing the ad to the whole market based on their response.  By the time you’re pre-testing, you should have a core concept of what you’d like your ad to look like, but a test group can help you figure out the best way to execute that vision.

A/B Test

Don’t fix what ain’t broke—the oldest form of ad testing has survived this long because it is also one of, if not the, most effective methods.  Once you have decided to proceed with an ad concept, A/B testing is a great tool for refining individual elements of ads and ad campaigns to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.  It’s very simple: test audience participants are shown one of two versions of the exact same advertisement with just one critical difference, a test version and a control version.  The version that gets the better feedback is the more successful ad.  Simple!

Evaluate

Concluding your pre-launch testing is a great place to land, but that doesn’t mean you’re done with your ad testing work.  Once your ad has launched, it is critical to continue your research to understand the effectiveness of the campaign.  This is a crucial part of integrating your ad campaigns into your larger business model and reinforcing the power of your brand.

 Getting the Most Out of Advertising Testing

            At the end of the day, effective advertising testing is about knowing which questions to ask, and to who, and when.  With effective ad testing, you can save your company irreparable damage from a tone-deaf ad campaign and boost your sales significantly.  Does it take time and energy to run an effective ad testing program?  Yes—but the results are well worth it.