Despite spending thousands or millions on ad campaigns, many organisations don’t consider pre-testing creative collateral (like radio audio, a billboard, or a television commercial) a necessity. A cruel irony when you consider that pre-testing creative collateral is the only means available to them to safeguard their ROI on this broader media investment. We know and understand that good marketing’s efficacy is undeniable, but great marketing has the power to change the world. And how do you take your marketing campaign from good to great? Simple, by pre-testing it.


Pre-testing is not an expensive exercise, especially when compared with your advertising campaign’s production and flighting cost. Building it into your total campaign planning is a sensible idea as it not only tells you if you hit the mark or not, but can also guide both the brand and the agency on the necessary changes to implement to ensure you hit the mark.

Pre-testing is also not a time-intensive affair. Within 10 to 15 days, you could expose a subset of your target audience to your latest ad or message, and get a very quick indication of whether:

  1. The ad is linked with your brand

This is the first one on the list for a reason – there’s no point spending millions on airing your campaign, only to realise three to six months down the line that consumers confused you with another brand – why are you spending millions to inadvertently advertise your competitor?


  1. The message is clear, understandable, believable, and memorable

Most communication and advertising campaigns should have a strong call to action. By pre-testing your creative, you’re ensuring that your target audience received and understood what you were trying to communicate. If you pre-test your collateral, and it’s discovered that the audience missed the message, you have the opportunity to course-correct, and make the message clear. But if you don’t pre-test your collateral and you get it wrong, it makes it easier for your audience to ignore and avoid you.


  1. The creative is relevant – either personally or culturally

Relevance is king. If it’s not relevant to you as a human, or to a specific culture, odds are it will go unnoticed. Or worse, it may bore your audience. We’ve seen too many brands spending millions on campaigns that ultimately bore and confuse their audience. Are you inclined to support a boring / confusing brand? The overwhelming volume of trend data says, “No.” Pre-testing your creative collateral can make the difference between being seen as pandering to your audience, being seen as completely oblivious about your audience’s needs or wants, or confirm whether you’re in the Goldilocks-zone, and your message lands juuuust right.


  1. Gauge your audience’s gut reaction

Any human will know instantly whether they like or dislike something. Wouldn’t you rather know how your audience will react to your campaign, instead of hoping it will be positive? By pre-testing your collateral, you’ll have a strong indication of the audience’s reaction before the campaign even airs.


  1. Measure the overall emotive impact

We believe in emotive impact so much, we wrote a whole other article about it (you can read it here: Simply put, emotion is the primary behaviour motivator, and it ultimately determines what action consumers will take. You should be champing at the bit to discover your campaign’s emotive impact BEFORE it launches, not months after it’s too late, especially if you inadvertently illicit negative feelings.


  1. Ensure you don’t offend

It takes a single complaint for the ASA to decide to pull your campaign, and it all too often comes down to nuance and context. Something pre-testing would’ve identified immediately. Even if you WANT to be controversial, pre-testing will let you know if you’ll succeed at what you’re attempting to achieve, without risking offence.


If a communication or ad campaign is driven by data and insights, it is much more likely to succeed and provide the desired ROI. Wouldn’t you prefer to KNOW whether your ad will achieve your business objectives, rather than hoping it will? Wouldn’t you like to avoid the shock when it completely misses the mark, or accidentally causes controversy? Take your advertising from good to great, guarantee your ROI on media spend, and thrill your audience while you’re at it, simply by pre-testing it.