Testing, testing 1, 2, 3

Testing, testing 1, 2, 3

Please pay attention. This is important. It’s time we talked about ad testing.

Some marketers see ad testing as a necessary evil – an incremental cost that, if our creative instincts were right, only validates how fully we understand our audience.

Do we need ad testing at all?

Ad testing is more important now than ever before in our lifetime. The global pandemic has thrown marketers into an immediate quandary, one that none of us has ever faced – just how much have our audiences changed? How and when can we advertise at scale? What tone of voice should our advertising take?  (And just how long must I continue making my own sourdough?)

We need to keep ad testing; we just need to stop paying it lip service and give it the credibility that it deserves.

For years markets have used benchmarks and norms as an indicator of success which make little, if any, change to the creative. In ‘norm-al’ times, we could probably get away with a testing methodology that “just hits the mark” more often than not. But now that COVID-19 has meaningfully changed the game for the foreseeable future, we’re playing with new rules.

As we know, ‘normal’ times don’t exist anymore. Within weeks, the pandemic has affected the lives of almost every person on the planet. Coronavirus has accelerated the demise of the physical consumer experience, forcing rapid change in our buying behaviours and expectations.

It’s more important now more than ever to know how we should engage with our audience.

Do marketers still know their audiences?

Let’s start with some good news. In the UK, less than a third of the population (30%) want no advertising at all during this pandemic. It’s great to see that consumers are still open to receiving communications and promotions from their brands.

This is sector dependent, of course. People are least likely to reject healthcare and grocery advertising (15% and 18%, respectively), as this speaks to our most fundamental physiological and safety needs.  But there’s less interest in gambling and casinos (55%).

Looks like Maslow nailed it again with his hierarchy of needs!

Now, more than ever it’s more important to know how we should engage with our audience. Interestingly, considering we’re in a crisis, we don’t have to play it too soberly. Only 22% of consumers want an empathetic or serious tone to their advertising. People would much prefer practical or helpful messaging (65%), or something (appropriately) funny or entertaining (45%). A third (34%) would like content that’s optimistic and looks to a brighter future.

So, it seems consumers don’t want overly serious or empathetic messaging that reminds them how bad things are, as long as their ads play into their basic needs for food, shelter or health.

(Simple. Now I can go back to my sourdough

No new norms in the new normal

In a lockdown landscape, ad testing needs to change. What worked before may no longer work in the new normal. For fans of the Netflix show “Stranger Things”, marketing is in the Upside Down now. (Although not literally, and we should probably give 80s nostalgia a rest for a while.)

If we continue to rely on existing norms, one of two things can happen:

Brands create average ads, benchmarked against a set of safe averages that may no longer be relevant.

Or, it could cause brands to hit a potential landmine by stepping on the very spot they should be avoiding.

To successfully navigate the pandemic (and post-pandemic) world, it’s time for brands and marketers to leave behind their established norms. They need to test their creative executions against new measures that reveal the shifting behavioural attitudes of their audiences.

Whats the solution?

As we said at the start, ad testing is more important than ever. There has never been a better time to reappraise our methodologies in the light of our new environment. Ad testing has an incredible ROI now, simply by virtue of the uncertain climate and the risks that advertising poses.

‘Off the shelf’ testing (testing with norms) is fraught with danger.  What are the norms in a world where normal has been redefined and continues to change daily?

Delineate has been working with brands to test creative executions not against norms, but against measures fit for the current climate to ensure a higher chance of success.

We also draw on the expertise gained from cutting edge platforms like our COVID-19 Impact Tracker to help you identify and avoid any potential pitfalls with your marketing campaigns using, “The Power of Now” to understand what is going on in the world in real time.  Times have changed and brands no longer have the luxury of waiting days, weeks or months for diagnostic data when change and consumer perception is evolving at such a rapid pace.  At Delineate, we want to empower every marketer to make smarter decisions, decisions with real time data and information.

Want to know more? Get in touch, by clicking on the chat button or give us a call and one of our experts can advise on the best approach for testing your campaign.

Download the COVID-19 Impact Tracker White Paper  – Unlocking Change

Our second white paper Unlocking Change moves the story on, from the initial lockdown period to now, to provides marketers and communicators with learning on how to engage with consumer right now. Download your complimentary copy.

Our COVID-19 Impact Tracker which is part of our always-on suite of data products, is helping marketers and communicators access the latest information and take action.

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