Before MR Tests

Consumer Jury: This testing method is one of the oldest and simplest before tests. It provides a rating given an advertisement by a group of consumers who represent potential buyers of the product. Personal interviews may be used, or a group may be assembled and the members asked to vote on the alternatives. The copy may be made up in dummy form or the major theme placed on cards. Respondents are then asked to rank the alternatives according to their preferences or interest in buying the product. It is assumed that respondents will always like at least one advertisement; in reality, the rating may be on the basis of which advertisement s disliked the least.

A variation of the above is sometimes used to analyze television programs and commercials. The procedure consists of exposing the audience to the program or commercial and having members record at specific intervals whether they liked, disliked, or were indifferent to what they had just heard or seen. This can also be accomplished using electronic machine known as the program analyzer. The machine has two buttons; and the respondents press one when they find the program interesting the other when the program is uninteresting, and neither when they are indifferent. A record machine summarizes the data and charts the continuous reactions of the audience. Such machines do not measure the extent of feeling or, of course reasons for liking or disliking.

The validity of the consumer jury method of copy testing leaves much to be desired. There is little evidence that judges regardless of their advertising expertise are able to select those advertisements that will have the greatest impact. Several research studies have found that experts could not predict the effect of individual ads.

Rating Scales: These can be used by consumers or by advertising agency personnel to rate alternative ads. Their use requires the establishment of standards for effective copy and numerical weights for each standard. The weights indicate a standard’s relative worth in the overall success of the copy. Ads are then rated in accordance with the scale values and a numerical score obtained. If the total weight for one item, for example is 10 analysts might give one ad 8 if they think it above average on that item. The total of the individual scores provides the numerical rating for an ad.

The major advantage of a rating scale is that it provides a list against which to check an ad and helps to single out the elements of an ad that are good and bad. The disadvantages are: (1) while the scale items may be well selected, it is difficult to set up relative weights regarding their contribution to the deal ad. (2) different judges will rate the items differently, leaving the question of who is right; and (3) high scores may not be an indication o success, since the ad may have received high scores on most items but low scores on a few.

A variation of the above has been developed by the Leo Burnett agency to quantify the consumer’s subjective reaction to a TV commercial. It is called VRP (Viewer Response Profile) and differs from other copy testing methods by seeking to measure a viewer’s experience with a commercial on several dimensions. Scale items are evaluative statements made by consumers about commercials is general. VRP focuses on the emotional components of communication effects and provides information relative to such questions as Do viewers empathize with the characters and situations in the commercial? And Do viewers see the commercial as confusing, entertaining or unusual? The seven dimensions included in the scale are entertainment, confusion, relevancy, brand reinforcement, empathy, familiarity, and alienation.