This refers to testing the campaign before it has run. The purpose of pretesting is to  detect  weaknesses  or  flaws  in  the  campaign  that  may  result  in  consumer indifference or negative response.  This  increases  the likelihood of preparing the most  effective  advertising  message.  All  the  areas  of  advertising  like-markets, motives, messages, media, budgets and scheduling may be tested.

It may be done to test two types of effects: “communication effects”  and “sales effects”.

Pre-testing   of   advertising   effects   seeks   to   determine   whether   advertising objectives  such  as  awareness,  recall,  attitudes  and  opinions,  beliefs  about  the product  and  intentions  to  buy,  have  been  achieved.  Pretesting  of  sales  effects seeks  to determine whether a  proposed  message or media  plan has  resulted  in increased  sales.  This  type  of  pretesting  identifies  and  isolates  the  influence  of advertising  on  sales.  A  number  of  more  advanced  techniques  are  used  for pretesting  both  communication  effects  and  sales  effects,  both  in  the  print  and broadcast  media.  This  brings  us  to  the  question  “how  campaigns  should  be tested”.

Given   that   most   advertising   is   assigned    the   task   of   achieving   specific communication  goals, a number of methods have been developed for pretesting these   communication   effects.   These   may   be   broadly   grouped   under   three categories:

  •  Opinion and attitude tests
  • Mechanical laboratory methods and
  • Projective techniques.


1.   Direct  Questioning:  This  is  a  method  designed  to  obtain  a  full range  of  responses  o  the  advertising,  by  asking  direct  questions about  the advertising. Based on the responses, researchers can infer how well the advertising messages convey the key copy points.

2.   Focus  Groups:  This  is  another commonly  used  method  to pretest print  ads  at  both  the  conceptual  and  finished  stage.  It  is  a  free- wheeling  discussion  conducted among small groups of people and led  by  a  “moderator”.  The  group  may  be  interviewed  on  their reactions   to   advertising   concepts   or   finished   campaigns.   The advantage of this  method is that it is an inexpensive and quick way of obtaining insights  into the advertising process. Focus groups are used extensively by Indian advertisers.

3.   Dummy  advertising   media  vehicles:   This  is  a  technique  that can be  applied to  both  print and  broadcasting ads. It involves  placing the  “test”  ads  in  a  dummy  vehicle,  which  resembles  the  actual advertising  medium.  In   case   of   television  commercials,  the effectiveness  of  these  may  be  tested  by  showing  respondents  an actual  television   programme,  with  the  test  commercials   placed within it. Questions are then asked to measure the extent on which people recalled the test commercials.

4.    Order-of-merit test:  this is used mainly for pretesting print  ads in finished   form.   A   group  of    people  are   shown   a   series  of advertisements,  sometimes  as many as six or seven, and asked to place them in rank order, based on some communication  criterion, such  as “liking”:. After all the ads have been  ranked, a composite score is obtained. This score shows which ad was ranked no.1, no.2, and so on.

5.   Paired  comparisons: This is used when more than six or seven ads have  to be rank ordered. Consumers are  then asked  to judge two ads at a  time, and asked to choose which one is better. The process continues until each advertisement has been paired with each of the others.

6.   Central   Location   Projection   Tests:   This   is  used   for  pretesting broadcast advertising. Test commercials are shown to a group of respondents  along  with  other  commercials,  at  a  central  location. Questions   are   asked   before   and   after   exposure   to   determine whether the commercials have been successful in gaining attention, increasing   brand   awareness   and   comprehension,   and   shifting attitudes.

7.   Live  Telecast   tests:  Here,  test  commercials  are  shown  on  closed- circuit or cable television. Respondents are then interviewed on the phone to test their reactions.

8.   Attitude   Ratings:   In  an  earlier  section,  we  defined  attitudes  as liking  or  dislike  for  a  brand.  Similarly,  people  may  also  form positive or negative attitudes towards ads. It is possible to measure attitudes  towards  ads  using quantitative research  techniques  such as attitude rating scales.


The   most   commonly   used   type   of   attitude   rating   scale   is   the   “semantic differential”. Under this  method, respondents  are asked  to  indicate on a seven point scale, their liking for an ad, on various dimensions.



These are commonly used in US and other developed countries. These include:

1.  The “tachistoscope”: It is used to measure consumer perceptions to ads.  Using this device, the researcher can tell how long it takes for respondents to get the intended message and how they perceive it.

This   way   two   alternative   layouts   may    be   tested   for   their effectiveness.

2.   The  “eye  camera”  photographs  the  movement  of  people’s  eyes while reading ads.

3.   The  “psychogalvanometer”  is  a  device  similar  to  lie-detector.  It records skin temperatures and  tension  resulting  from reading ads. The  theory  behind  this  concept  is  that  the  more  tension  an  ad creates, the more successful it is likely to be.

4.   The  “pupillometer” is a device that measures a person’s pupil size when  exposed to visual stimuli such as ads. The theory behind it is that  the  size  of the pupil increases  when  the person  finds  the ad visually interesting or emotionally appalling.



It  is  a  type  of  qualitative  or  “motivational”   research   adapted  from  clinical psychology. It   permits   the   respondents  to   direct   questioning,    projective techniques permits respondents to indirectly project their views or feelings about the advertising situation. The following types of projective techniques are used:

1.    Depth  interviews: Here, respondents are shown advertising  material and promoted  to discuss  it  freely.  A   trained  interviewer, usually  a psychologist,  probes  the  respondent  about  his  underlying  feelings  and motivations.

2.   “Word  Association  and  Sentence   Completion”  Tests:  These  are  a  little more  structured  than  the  depth  interview.  Key  words  or  sentences  are used   as   stimuli,   to   which   the   respondent   replies   by   projecting   his thoughts.  These  words  and  sentences  are  taken  from  ads  being  tested. This way, the researcher can determine what they mean to the consumers.

3.   Thematic   Apperception  Tests:   In  this  method,  pictures  of  people  in ambiguous situations are shown to respondents. Respondents are asked to build   a  story  around  these  pictures,  by  projecting  their  opinions  and feelings into the story.


The   problem    with    using    projective   techniques   to   measure   advertising effectiveness is the expenses involved, including the cost of training interviewers to evoke useful responses from respondents.

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