Quantitative pre-testing. Return of the living dead?

Paul Feldwick

Quantitative ad pre-testing is slowly coming back into vogue and unsettling agencies. This is partly because of the way their data are sometimes used, for instance, to take decisions for the user, rather than inform judgement. This paper notes two main genres of test: some based on persuasion (as in the US), others on a surrogate for effectiveness, such as impact. Neither model is conceptually satisfactory as a measure of effectiveness, nor is real diagnostic information usually provided in their extensive questionnaires. However, the rigidity of most systems is of greater concern. These contain fixed, arbitrary assumptions about how the specific ad and advertising generally - are supposed to work. More flexible, tailor-made tests would take away quantitative pre-testing's bad name.