Beyond copy testing

John Walling and Sian Owen, rsc, show how adding a process dimension to advertising can produce systematic improvement

John Walling & Sian Owen

Traditionally, the advertising industry has used copy testing – albeit sometimes grudgingly – as a means of choosing among the executions for a given brand. In his overview of the history of copy testing, Darrell Lucas defined copy testing's role as 'an aid in making the best choice among two or more alternative advertisements or commercials.'1 The PACT Agencies came to a similar conclusion, proclaiming that copy testing's purpose is 'to aid in the judgment of specific advertising executions.'2

To a company with a 25-year history of providing valid and reliable copy-test measurement, the following realisation did not come easily: copy testing – even when quality behavioural measurement is employed – is not enough to ensure improvement in advertising effectiveness. To overcome this limitation, it is necessary to look beyond copy testing to the process in which it is used. This article reviews a quality management approach to advertising measurement, its empirically based process applications and the resulting revolutionary improvement achieved as these measurement and process tools are adopted.

The cornerstone of successful advertising