These tests are named after the manner in which the advertisements to be tested are packaged. A group of ads, usually a mixture of test ads and control ads is placed in a portfolio. Sometimes the ads are actually placed in dummy copies of news papers or magazines. Respondents who are thought to be representative of the target audience are given the folio and asked to go through it, reading whatever interests them and taking as much time as they want. After completing this task, the respondents are asked to recall (with the folio closed) the ads that they can remember. Such recall may be on a completely unaided basis, or the interviewer may aid recall by asking about specific ads or ads for specific products. For each recalled ad, the respondent is asked to play back as much of the ad as possible. This information is recorded verbatim. Additional questions may be asked about such things as the believability of the claims in the ad, the general reaction to the ad, and whether the respondent uses the product.
Frequently, the portfolio test is used to test the merits of two or more alternatives ads. In such cases, an experimental design is used in which two or more sets of folios are prepared. The only difference between folios is that one set contains test ad A, another set contains test ad B, and so on. The non-test ads (control ads) are the same in all folios and are positioned in the same order. By using small matched samples and comparing recall and playback scores among the various groups a winner is obtained.
These tests are somewhat related to the tests already discussed, but they differ in the methods used. Advertisement effectiveness depends on the results achieved in the mind of the individual reached by the advertisement. Ideally, one could set up a list of the reactions that might result from a given advertisement, such as self pity, security, fear, or nostalgia. Alternative advertisements could then be related on how readers responded with respect to those reactions.
Psychological tests employ a variety of research techniques, including word association, sentence completion, depth interviewing, and story telling. Typically a number of these techniques are employed on the same study. The major objective is to find out what respondents see in various advertisements and what it means to them. Such studies can be undertaken either before of after the copy has run. These are difficult studies to implement since only skilled interviewers can be used. The content needs to be developed by a trained individual and the results are difficult to interpret. The need for skilled interviewers (expensive) leads to relatively small samples, sometimes as few as 10 to 15 respondents, so the results are subject to wide variation.
Physiological Tests: Measures derived from physiological tests are obtained using special laboratory equipment which records an individual’s physiological responses to advertisements. Such tests have prevailed over the years because of their potential for providing objective responses to identifiable stimuli. Two of the older ones are the galvanic skin responses and the eye which is in lie detection work. Respondents are linked by electrodes to a monitor and are exposed to a number of stimuli in the form of test and control ads. The monitor records the impact of these ads on the nervous system by, measuring the amount of perspiration occurring on the hands. Advertising effectiveness is judged on the basis of the arousal registered on the monitor. To date this method has not played an important role in copy testing. Aside from the problem of sample size, there is a question of what is being measured, since arousal does not necessarily mean favorable reaction.