Ad Development: Using Qualitative Research

Judith Wardle
Wardle McLean


Advertising-related projects represent about one-third of all qualitative market research carried out in the UK, and some of the most challenging for practitioners. They are challenging not only because of the complexity of the issues brand, customer, brand message, creative idea and the relationships between all of them but also because of the tensions inherent in evaluating a creative product.

This last difficulty is the cause of a perennial debate within the industry and revolves around the fact that, on the one hand, advertising is a commercial investment and on the other, advertising is not a science. So, while it is understandable that advertisers need to seek guidance from research, some advertising practitioners argue that the development of effective creative ideas is an art that does not benefit from the kind of critical scrutiny that qualitative research represents.