Advertising Effectiveness:
The Value of Creative Testing

Estimates say that the average person sees between 6,000 to 10,000 ads every day, an almost twofold increase from ten years ago. With so much competition for our attention, it’s vital to understand if an ad will be remembered and, more importantly, if it will drive the desired reaction.

Marketers have a variety of tools for this, but not all are created equal. For example, traditional A/B testing helps marketers optimize conversions by isolating which creative elements drive results, but it can’t dig into the why behind performance and the what that needs to improve. That’s where creative testing can help.

What is creative testing?
Creative testing, also known as advertising pre-testing, is a data-driven approach that accurately predicts how an ad will perform in-market and ensures both creative teams and media budgets only support effective advertising concepts.

With creative testing, marketers will have a blueprint on how the imagery, copy and storyline of their ads can be optimized to best resonate with the target audience, and how memorability could be improved to enhance media ROI. The diagnostic reporting will help:

  • Identify the ad’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Understand how viewers internalize the explicit and implicit messages
  • Verify the impact on brand impressions
  • Measure motivation and purchase intent

These insights can help creative teams dramatically improve an ad’s short-term effectiveness and, importantly, show how the ad elements work together to create branded memories that drive long-term revenue growth and profit.

Creative can be tested across a variety of media, including:

  • TV/Video
  • Social media
  • Online display
  • Landing pages
  • Direct mail
  • Print
  • Out of home
  • Audio
  • Cinema

Advertising can be tested quickly against your ideal target audience and done at any stage of production. Generally, the earlier testing is completed in the development process, the more opportunity there is to improve its quality. Most marketers find that even a small investment in this research provides the opportunity to considerably enhance the ROI.

When leveraged early, often, and correctly, creative testing can greatly improve your advertising’s performance, especially when it comes to brand perception and media placement. Below, we explore four areas where pre-testing can immediately have an impact on your brand and your media effectiveness.

1. Create a Lasting Emotional Connection with Your Brand

Advertising needs to create memorable moments that evoke emotion and convey something relevant about the brand. By doing this, advertising will create long-term branded memories that viewers tap into when making buying decisions.

Creative testing can predict if your ads will have this effect. It can also provide an analysis of how well an ad captures and holds attention, the meaning being conveyed, the emotions elicited and how likely someone is to consider the brand in the future. By pinpointing the strengths and weaknesses, marketers can make objective decisions on how to fine-tune the creative to capture and hold the audience’s attention in order to create a lasting impact on brand connection and perception.

2. Boost Cross-Channel Effectiveness

When testing an integrated campaign, pre-testing can identify ads with the most potential to drive ROI and those that aren’t pulling their weight. For the most accurate predictions, it’s best practice to test ads within the context they will be seen to see how well they perform among competing content.

Marketers can then use this information to optimize their media mix and feature the best-performing copy and imagery in other campaign elements to improve cross-channel effectiveness. For example, the image that tested highest among the target audience could be featured on social media or within an outdoor or display campaign.

3. Optimize Media Mix

Another interesting aspect of creative testing is the ability to see how an ad impacts different target audience segments.

In a recent study, Skin in the Game: How Emotional Investment in Content Drives Ad Performance“, we tested five ads from the 2022 Super Bowl to compare how engagement, brand affinity and consideration changed based on a person’s level of emotional investment in the game. The study revealed particularly high impact across different audience segments, indicating potential media mix optimizations across audience segments that would lower media costs and increase ad effectiveness.

4. Activate Custom Audiences

Data from creative testing can also be used to model and scale a custom, cookie-free lookalike audience that can be used to boost cross-channel ROI. At Dynata, we’re able to connect seed data generated from creative testing, brand health studies and surveys with CRM and reliable second- and third-party data directly into marketable audiences at scale. This custom audience can then be distributed to advertising and demand-side platforms to activate targeted campaigns.

Choosing which creative concepts to invest in shouldn’t be left to chance. By blending the art and science of marketing, creative pre-testing can not only help marketers make informed decisions on how to best optimize an ad’s effectiveness, but it can also provide strategic guidance that will have a long-term positive impact on your media planning and brand.

To see how our unique, memory-based creative testing methods can help your team uncover accurate insights to improve advertising effectiveness, download The Ultimate Guide to Creative Testing.