Pre-testing leads to better ads: study

18 March 2010

HAMBURG: Pre-testing can increase the overall effectiveness of advertising by almost a fifth, a new study from TNS, the research firm, has shown.

The company, which is part of WPP Group, conducted an assessment of 30 different campaigns which had previously been run in Germany.

Its analysis measured consumers' rational and emotional responses to TV and radio spots from brands in a wide range of product categories, and suggested how these metrics could be improved.

Overall, it found that ads which were modified to reflect the changes generated via this process recorded growth of 19% in their "motivational power" when compared with the original versions.

The increase on this measure was even more pronounced when the initial execution had achieved modest results, with an average uptick of 30%.

Hans Mumme, head of the competence center, TNS brand and communications research, said this kind of approach thus constituted far more than a "test", and could have "far-reaching" implications in the market.

In contrast with these findings, Peter Field, a marketing consultant, and one of the authors of Marketing in the Era of Accountability, recently contested the efficacy of pre-testing when writing on The Warc Blog.

His research, covering case studies from the IPA Effectiveness Awards, revealed that only 4% of campaigns subjected to quantitative pre-testing delivered "very large profit growth", rising to 24% for those that were not.

These totals reached 45% and 58% in turn with regard to the "effectiveness success rate", showing that pre-testing tends to underperform as a predictive tool. 

Data sourced from TNS Infratest; additional content by Warc staff