LONDON: Millward Brown, the research firm, is developing new tools that will allow marketers to test different versions of creative ideas and get results from these tests within hours.

According to Amanda Phillips, Millward Brown's head of marketing in the UK, this move is a response to the growth of programmatic buying, which, she suggested, is leading not just to better targeted advertising but to a need for greater customisation of that same advertising.

"If programmatic is going to really work, then advertisers need to have variety in their ads but against a core platform of a creative idea," she told The Drum. "It means having that ability to adapt creative so that it complements the contextual environment they appear in."

Accordingly, brands need to be testing more than one idea when building a programmatic plan that fits within a wider campaign.

"Instead, it's lots of mini executions that you want a quick gauge as to whether or not they're going to work," Phillips stated.

Millward Brown's own analysis has found that consistent pre-testing improves a brand's ad effectiveness by at least 20% compared to brands that do not test, and Unilever's CMO Keith Weed has spoken of having "real hard evidence, showing that ads we've pretested perform better in the marketplace than ads we don't".

Phillips pointed out that "[i]t can't just be about testing ads in certain circumstances and actually brands should be thinking about how they pre-test the whole campaign".

"Programming a campaign into your black box that doesn't quite hold together is like a virus spreading and not necessarily in a good way," she observed.

Warc's Toolkit 2015 has highlighted the need for creative to become part of the programmatic process – "thirty percent is the media, seventy percent is the creative", said one Kellogg executive – and said this need should be considered in parallel with data and targeting strategy.

Phillips was in broad agreement. "I think data analytics together with pre-testing together with campaign performance all need to talk to one another to be able to look at the customer in the round and then model the prospects against what a good customer looks like," she added.

Data sourced from The Drum; additional content by Warc staff