Copy testing


Prior to implementing the campaign, it is necessary to test the ad copy with the target audience. The purpose of testing the copy is to know how the potential buyers or target audience will react.

Testing a copy before and after the campaign helps in ensuring ad effectiveness. However, many in the ad agencies object to this testing largely on the ground that most tests tell only what is working rather than giving information on why one ad copy is effective and not the other. It has also been criticized on the ground that creativity cannot be tested. Also some competitor in the advertising field may duplicate the idea for some other product and implement the same faster than the original copy write company.

Notwithstanding these criticisms or objections to testing, many ad agencies and advertisers continue to test the ad copies. Testing which is done before the launch of the campaign is called pre-testing and the one done after the campaign is called post-testing.

The parameters on which an ad copy has to be evaluated or tested are desirability, exclusiveness and believability. Or in other words, any ad copy should be likeable and interesting to the target audience. It should stand out in the clutter of noise created by competition and finally the target audience should believe in the claims made by the copy, i.e. the copy should be credible.

To test the copy on the first two dimension i.e. desirability and exclusiveness, recognition and recall tests conducted. For third dimension namely believability, copy is tested on persuasiveness and purchase behavior of the target customer.

Recognition tests involve buyer being able to recognize an advertisement as belonging to a brand or a firm and/or as one that he or she has seen earlier. This test is commonly used for television and radio commercials. In the print advertising, three measures are generated for each advertisement copy. These are called ‘noted’, ‘seen associated’ and ‘read most’.

Noted refers to the number of respondents who remembered having seen the ad. ‘Seen’ is associated with any part of the ad scene, which shows the brand, service and firm’s name.

Recognition is the first prerequisite to a successful ad campaign. A high recognition score is not necessary a high successful advertising. Recognition requires least effort on the part of target audience. Recall tests require a higher degree of information retrieval and to a large extent can reveal whether the ad copy is able to filter through the perceptual veil.

There are two types of recall:

1. Unaided.
2. Aided.

In the former the respondent is asked to recall as much as, he or she is able to, of the copy content of a specific brand. The respondent may recall the model, the situation, headlines, or some features of the product or just the music or any other dimension of the copy. At times, this recall is either not possible or is negligible. On such occasions the researcher aids the respondents by asking a question such as, “Did you see a TV commercial showing Amir Khan?� And if the respondent replies positively, then the researcher may ask the next question- “Which product is he shown giving to his friend?� etc. Alternatively, in TV and radio commercials the background music or jingle may be played and customers asked to identify the brand and may be tell more about the ad.

Recall tests, indicate composing and to a large extent attractiveness of the copy. Psychologists tell us that human beings remember only those stimuli which are rewarding and attractive. However, these tests have been criticized because they do not measure effectiveness of an emotional commercial.
Persuasion tests refer to the proportion of target audience who show distinctive attitudinal shift towards the brand after seeing its ad.

A commonly used method here is theatre testing that aims to study forced exposure brand performance change. In the theatre testing method, a group of respondents are invited to preview television program. They respond to demographic and brand or product usage questions that appear on the TV screen. Then, they view a half hour variety programs. In the middle of the programs commercials are placed. These commercials also include the test copy. After the audience reactions to the programs, an unaided brand recall question is asked. This forms the basis of clutter or awareness score (i.e. the percentage of people who recalled the brand advertised).The test commercials are then exposed a second time surrounded by programs material. Attitude shift is now measured by asking respondents to select brands in a product class if they were to go shopping. In advertising for durables and services the pre and post preference is measured by determining:

1. The favorite brand.
2. The next preferred alternative.
3. Brands that would not be considered.
4. Brands towards which the customer is indifferent.
Besides the above, respondents are probed about the following:

1. Comprehension of message or slogan.
2. Communication of secondary copy ideas.
3. Evaluation of demonstrations or spoke persons or message.
4. Perception of brand uniqueness
5. Irritating or confusing elements.
6. Viewer involvement.

A modified version of this theatre test is conducted foe testing radio commercials.

Some of the recent advertisements on TV of Cadbury’s “Pappu pas ho Gaya� and that of Asian Paints “Chote nawab ka bahaduri kartab� are not only humorous, attractive and delivering the desired message to the TV audience. Amul is one company whose advertisements on road side hoardings are much faster than anybody else in conveying the message about their product (butter) using the current news item about a politician or a sportsman or a celebrity in a funny style. But the message conveyed makes a good impact and brings out a good smile on the viewers.