The Ultimate Guide to Ad Testing

Anna Raventós

What is ad testing?

Advertising plays an essential role in consumer decision-making, so measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of advertising campaigns is key to ensuring that your brand and its benefits are present in the consumer’s mind. Hence the importance of ad testing.

But what does an effective and efficient campaign mean? It means talking to the consumer in the proper contexts and with the right messages, integrating traditional media with new technologies and trends.

Due to the context in which advertising moves nowadays, a large amount of media, the very high advertising saturation, the importance of social networks, etc., it’s not only about measuring advertising performance but, also, about understanding advertising research within a global communication context. In a context where to be effective and efficient, it’s vital to maximize the consumer’s knowledge of the product or service and, on the other hand, the different points of contact with the consumer (touchpoints).

Let’s take a closer look!

Advertising tests allow us to collect data that measure the effectiveness and efficiency of advertising. Specifically, advertising research accompanies the entire marketing process by helping optimize the strategy, the message, and the selection of the most cost-effective communication channels. These surveys are critical at times of high advertising spending such as at Christmas.

Thus, this type of market research responds to different fields of action:

  • Research into advertising effectiveness and efficiency: measuring a campaign’s impact in terms of its ability to achieve marketing objectives.
  • Message-related research: aims to measure the level of impact and the ability of different advertising pieces to convey a message.
  • Media or communication channel research consists of identifying the best communication channels to deliver a message to the target audience.

Advertising tests are market studies that measure and analyze variables such as the level of acceptance, identification, ability to attract attention, the call to action (CTA), attrition, the meaning of the messages, etc., among others.

Therefore, advertising tests allow us to answer, for example, the following questions:

  • Advertising impact: What is the advertising impact of the campaign? Does it meet expectations? Does it make it better or worse than past campaigns?
  • Brand recognition: What brand is the advertising associated with, and are consumers able to recognize and remember it?
  • Likes and dislikes: What are the most liked and disliked elements, and how can the campaign be improved?
  • Attributes of the campaign: Is the advertising different, credible, and innovative?
  • Understanding the message: What message(s) does it convey, and how do consumers understand them?
  • Brand attributes: What campaign brand image attributes work? Which ones do consumers recognize and value when they see the campaign?
  • Persuasive power: What are the campaign’s compelling forces and the predisposition to purchase or consume?
  • Advertising recall and brand recall: How many people remember the campaign? How many people remember the brand that featured it?

Ad testing success story

Check out how TelevisaUnivision has made its advertising more effective through data. Read the full case study.

Ad testing methods

Depending on the advertising research objective and the campaign timing, you would conduct one or another advertising survey. For example, measure the effect and quality of ads before, during, and after a campaign launch.

PRETEST advertising

The objective of the advertising Pretest is to measure the impact and quality of the advertisement before the campaign. It is crucial to identify the effectiveness of the communication and its possible optimizations before it’s aired. Through the Pretests of this study, advertisers select the best executions, optimize them and ensure that the campaign will obtain the best return before making significant investments in advertising

This advertising test allows for measuring different aspects of a campaign, such as its ad concepts, creative development, brand awareness, linkage, comprehension, diagnosis, brand positioning, and persuasive power.

It’s important to carry out Pre-Test advertising, especially in campaigns of great relevance and advertising investment such as Christmas or the World Cup.

POST-TEST advertising

Unlike the Pre-Test, the objective of the advertising Post-Test is to measure the impact and quality of the advertisement after the campaign has ended. The results of the Post-Test of this study will determine whether the objectives of the communication effectiveness have been met, quantify the success of the campaign and identify lessons learned for future communications.

The Post-Test is a very important study considering that advertising budgets represent one of the most significant investments for many brands, so being able to analyze advertising effectiveness is critical. There are different types of Post-Test advertising, and choosing one or another will depend on the study’s objective.

The main key metrics used to measure advertising effectiveness are:

  • Advertising recall
  • Brand awareness
  • The level of liking of the ad
  • The level of understanding and reach of advertising messages
  • The impact on brand image
  • As well as the level of persuasion


Advertising tracking consists of tracking the different communications made over time, making it possible to evaluate the effectiveness of all advertising campaigns issued and analyze how they contribute to the brand’s health. In this way, advertisers can see which campaigns have the most impact on an ongoing basis and can know when the brand is strong and when it’s not.

There are different types of advertising tracking, and performing one or the other will depend on the campaign’s characteristics and the maturity of the category and the product. For example continuous tracking (with weekly or monthly measurements) or pulsed tracking (with punctual measurements spaced over time).

The importance of advertising tracking lies in the fact that campaigns have an impact at the moment they are broadcasted and over a long period. With this type of advertising test, you can obtain insights into the evolution of advertising effectiveness and its impact on brand health.

Ad testing benefits

Ad testing allows us to identify the performance and ability of campaigns to meet the objectives of the communication strategy. This is relevant considering that the forecast for advertising spending in the RMB by 2026 is 100 billion dollars in the US (according to data from the consultancy firm McKinsey) and that the forecast for digital advertising spending worldwide by 2026 will reach 876 billion US dollars, according to the statistics portal Statista.

The benefits of advertising research include:

  • It allows us to measure the impact of the ad and brand recall.
  • Determine which elements of the campaign work and which elements need to be optimized.
  • Knowing whether the messages are reaching the target audience and whether they are being accepted or rejected.
  • Identify the most profitable media or channels for the brand and product.
  • As well as measuring the correlation between the investment and the objectives achieved.

When carrying out an advertising test, different factors must be taken into account to ensure a representative result as close as possible to reality, especially in the case of the Pretest, which takes place before launching the campaign. In any case, different criteria must be followed:

  • Use a representative audience
  • Provide a clear and dynamic survey
  • Add key questions to the questionnaire
  • It’s useful to use monadic tests to ask about different advertising concepts.

In addition, solutions such as the insights platform Zinklar offer survey templates to launch studies quickly and efficiently. Discover our ad testing survey template and check how your ad performs.

An advertising test’s objective is to ensure advertising’s effectiveness and measure its impact. Making it at one time or another will depend on the type of advertising test to be performed.

In the case of an advertising Pretest, the study can be carried out both with unfinished actions (for example, in storyboard or animatic format) and with finished ads. The advertising Post-Test can be carried out with the campaign already on air or once it has been completed. The Post-Test allows you to analyze the influence of the campaigns of the competition with your ad shares presence.

Finally, advertising tracking is a tool for continuously monitoring and evaluating advertising effectiveness. This type of test can be carried out continuously or with punctual measurements.

Ready to base your advertising plan on consumer insights? Create ads that drive sales by testing their performance. Discover all the possibilities the Zinklar platform offers, sign up, and try it out!

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