Approaches to Measuring Advertising Effectiveness

There are two approaches to measuring advertising effectiveness, viz,, experimental method and survey method. Under experimental method, consumers are given a controlled exposure to the message and the effects are measured on the basis of the change in opinion or attitude. A base line is observed with the use of a control group not exposed to the advertising campaign. The results of the exposure in almost all the situations are recorded. The alternative effects of each exposure are considered for comparison and with a view to establishing a relationship between the exposure and the effects. Field experiments are conducted to measure the effects of mass communication. Sample surveys or interviews or questionnaires are used to obtain information about people’s exposure to the advertising campaign. The effectiveness is evaluated on the basis of the correlations between the exposure and the attitude or action.

Pre Testing Methods

Pre-testing is preferred because it enables one to know how effective an advertisement is likely to be, before spending the budget and adopting advertising actions. The advertiser should use only those messages and media which prove to be the strongest in producing the desired results. It is important to adopt corrective methods against mistakes. Pre-testing may be of the following types:-

  1. Consumer Jury: Consumer reaction has greater validity than the reactions of non-consumers. Consumers can provide true information on reaction to an advertising campaign. Others may underestimate or overestimate the reactions. The copy, illustrations, filming techniques, layout, etc. can be properly evaluated by the consumers concerned with the product. The consumer jury technique is adopted for print media, broadcast media and direct mail.
  2. Print Media: The consumers selected may be asked either to evaluate an advertisement or rate two or more advertisements. Each respondent is asked to express his preference for each advertisement. The most common method is to insert a questionnaire in the advertisement and request the readers to indicate their preferences. Copywriters test their creations on consumers. Some newspaper advertisers invite consumers their office and invite their reaction to the advertising copy or copies of magazines are sent to some consumers to find out their reactions. The reactions of consumers are evaluated and any inconsistency in advertising is removed. The major advantage is that they separate out the weak advertisements from the strong at a low cost and high speed. The actual consumers may suggest improvements and modifications. Only conscious ratings are evaluated. Reply to the questions in a very conscious manner may not give a correct impression of advertisements.
  3. Broadcast Media: Consumers are asked to come to the television studio where they are shown different television programmes for final consideration. Sometimes, the television advertisement messages are pre-examined in different localities.
  4. Direct mail test: The direct mail test is used through the mail. The post cards containing copy appeal, each with a reply-paid card, is sent free-of-cost to consumers, who are required to give their evaluation.
  5. Storyboard Tests: The storyboard prepared for television advertising is tested before it is used. The storyboard pictures are transferred to a film strip and the audio section onto a tape. Vision and sound are synchronized and shown to an audience for evaluation. This test uncovers the unnecessary part. The important part of advertising is accepted for telecasting. The anteroom trailer method is used to test the commercial. The anteroom contains magazines, newspapers, distractions and television recorded programmes.
  6. Laboratory Tests: The respondents are placed in laboratory situations and are asked to explain the measurements regarding the effectiveness of the advertisement. Laboratory conditions offer a controlled environment that excludes the variables which may invalidate the test. It is used to measure awareness, attention, desire, retention, etc. For example, the respondents are taken to a theatre, mock-up supermarkets or some other place for experimental purposes.
  7. Tachistoscope: It is a projector that can project objects on to a screen at rates so fast that the viewer cannot detect the message. It is slowed down to a level where the message can be perceived easily. The respondents should understand and appreciate the message, interesting words, slogans, headlines, etc. They can be easily segregated from the less interesting message.
  8. Psychogalvanometer: It is a mechanical device that measures the amount of perspiration. It measures a respondent’s reactions to new records and slogans. Electrodes are attached to his palms to detect changes in electrical resistance arising from perspiration. If the machine registers lower electrical resistance it is the existence of tension. The main objective is to attract attention to the product which is reflected by the galvanic skin response. But it should not be concluded that greater tension reflects the greater success of the advertisement.
  9. Eye Camera: The eye movements are recorded by a video camera. It records the activity of the eye by is movements. The audience is asked to look at a series of pictures on a screen but unaware that their eye actions are being photographed. It shows what the respondent sees. If a commercial is interesting and if he is attracted by it, his eyes will be fixed on that. The respondents may be asked some questions about the advertisement.
  10. Pupil Dilation: The size of the pupil changes as people see different things. The change follows different advertising stimuli. It becomes wider as greater interest is aroused. The pupil shrinks if the eye is not interested. A pupilometer records the dilation which is involuntary and measures the interest shown by the respondent.
  11. Attitude Test: The attitude is closely related to advertising effectiveness. Respondents are asked to give answers to the questions on a seven-point bipolar scale about their feelings about a particular advertisement. The semantic differential rating scale has been used extensively to measure advertising effectiveness. If the attitudes of potential customers are changed toward the products, the advertisement is considered effective. The attitude of potential customers or respondents can be measured accurately on the attitude scale. This scale measures the position of the consumers attitudes on a continuum, varying from favorable at one end and to unfavorable at the other end. This test is applied before the use of the advertising media, message and campaign to find out how far they would influence consumer attitudes.
  12. Depth Interviewing: It is concerned with getting the respondent to react freely to the brand, organisation and product. By suitable questions, the interviewer brings out his unconscious reactions to the surface. The reactions are noted to bring out the facts. Depth interviewing involves non-structured questions. The flexibility and intelligence of the interviewer identify the significant points made in the interview and achieve meaningful and valid results. This technique is useful for exploratory research, for ideas and suggestions.

Post Testing Methods

It is applied after the advertisement has ended to find out how far advertising has been successful. The objective of advertising is to arouse consumer awareness, his interest, desire and develop his attitude to the product. These are recognition tests, recall tests, attitude change, sales and recognition tests

Recognition test: It is developed by Danial Starch. It measures the readership of printed advertisements. It is also called the readership test. It is based on the assumption that there is a high correlation between the reading of the advertisement and the purchase of the product. A particular advertisement may be examined by sending the whole newspaper or magazine wherein it is published. Afterwards readers are approached to find out whether they have read the advertisements or not. The percentage of readership who have seen the advertisement and remember it, who recall seeing or reading any part of it, identifying the product and brand, and who reported reading at least one half of the advertisement is calculated. The relationship between readers per rupee and the median readers per rupee can be established. The advantage is that it measures something which has been realized under normal conditions. The recognition tests show the importance of each type of advertisement on the basis of the readership test. This is an uncontrolled interview and suffers from the problems of uncontrolled techniques of examination.

Recall Tests: A recall test depends on the memory of the respondents. This test is applied to measure the impression made by an advertisement on the reader’s mind. It is classified into two types – aided recall and unaided recall. Some have combined the two and made it a combined recall test.

  1. Aided Recall: It is used to measure the reading memory of magazine advertising impressions. It is necessary to use a large sample size for statistical reliability. The aided test measures television advertising. The interviewer may approach the respondents over the telephone or in person to find out something about their recall of the commercial. A radio advertisement may be given the aided recall test followed by an unaided question. For example: “What products have been advertised during the last two days?” Then the recall aid is provided by asking: ‘Have you heard the advertisements of brand X? “The recall test may be administered immediately or two or three days after the exposure.
  2. Unaided Recall: Under this method, little or no aid is given. The purpose is to measure the penetration of the advertisement. Respondents are asked whether the advertisements included a particular picture or message. The name of the product is not given to the audience. They have to recall it themselves. If they do remember, it is established that there was some impact of the advertisement.
  3. Combined Recall Tests: It includes aided as well as unaided recall tests. This test was developed by Gallup and Robinson. Respondents are asked whether they have read the magazine or newspaper, or listened to the radio or watched television. This technique involves following steps.
    1. The respondents should recall and describe correctly at least one editorial feature in the magazine or newspaper.
    2. They are handed a group of cards on which are printed the names of brands-advertised in the issue. They are asked which of the brands were advertised in that issue.
    3. The respondents are questioned in depth to evaluate the accuracy of their recall.
    4. A copy of the magazine is given to the respondents. They are asked whether they have seen the advertisement: for the first time or seen it a second or third time. The reply that they have seen it a second time or more often is discarded from the recall test because they are included under the Proven Name Registration (PNR).

The information on age, sex, education, occupation, etc. may establish a relationship between these factors and recall. This method measures the recall of qualified readers to assess the depth of penetration achieved by the advertised message.

The limitation of the test is the heavy cost involved in the study. It is affected by the variation in human memory. The audience may recall because it has seen the previous advertisements of the product.

Attitude Change: There are several techniques for the measurement of attitude change after the advertising has ended. These techniques are as follows:

  1. Semantic Differential: It is used to measure attitude in the field of marketing and advertising research. It uses a bi-polar (opposite) adjective statement about the subject of evaluation. The attitude is measured in the light of some objectives. The two-way scale is used for the purpose. The neutral is mid-point, while the three points on both the sides of the neutral point, on the same scale, provide the degree of favorable and unfavorable characteristics.
  2. The Likert Scale: The Likert scale is used to measure audience attitude to advertisements. A series of statements are described to measure the attributes of the advertisement. Only the relevant statements are used for the purpose. Each statement is measured on a five-point scale.
  3. Ranking Techniques: The preferences to several types of advertisements are ranked to find out the place of a particular advertisement among the several advertisements. An advertisement of one product can be measured with the advertisements of other products taken together. This is done to find out the effectiveness of the advertisement in a competitive atmosphere. The winner may be given rank 1 and loser is given rank 5. The ranking is based on awareness, interest, attitude change, attractiveness, usefulness, entertaining respect, effectiveness, etc. A sufficient number of consumers are selected for a sample survey. The overall rank is summed up to determine the final rank of the advertisement of the brand.
  4. Projective Techniques: It is used to measure attitude change. Association techniques, completion techniques, construction techniques and expressive techniques are used to measure the change in attitude.

Sales Test: It is designed to evaluate the effects of advertising on the purchase behavior of the consumer. It is successfully applied to examine the consumer behavior to advertisements of consumption goods. Sales are effected after creating an image of and interest in, the product. With the help of sales audit and audience response, it is possible to evaluate the effects of advertising on sales. There are generally three types of sales tests, viz.,

  1. Measure of Past Sales: Advertising and sales are correlated by using the past sales data. The past data on sales are diversified and their advertising expenses are correlated to establish their relationship Sales data for the past ten years as well as the advertising expenses are collected and tabulated to establish the correlation between the sales volume and advertising expenses. All other factors influencing sales are also correlated with the sales. The differences between their correlations show the importance of each individual factor influencing sales.
  2. Field Experiments: Field experiments may show the extent to which a particular advertising campaign has affected sales. The whole market may be divided into test and control areas. One treatment may be randomly administered to each area to know how a particular factor has influenced the sales in that area. The different treatments may be used to eliminate irrelevant variables. The results of each variable are recorded for different periods. These figures give the total impact of advertising on sales.
  3. Matched Samples: The respondents belonging to the same age, educational status, occupation, sex, etc. are selected for comparison of advertising effectiveness. They are matched in every respect but not for the test treatment. One group has seen the advertisements and other group has not seen the advertisements. The sales of the treated group should he higher than those of the not-treated group. This would show the difference between the sale of the advertised products and of the non-advertised products.

About Abey Francis

Abey Francis is the founder of MBAKnol - A Blog about Management Theories and Practices - and he's always happy to share his passion for innovative management practices. You can found him on Google+ and Facebook. If you’d like to reach him, send him an email to: [email protected]

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