5 Ways to Test Advertising Effectiveness

When considering advertising – whether it be print, broadcast, online or even through Facebook – run a test campaign before making a long term commitment. This is a good method for determining if advertising in general – and a specific outlet in particular – is an effective strategy for your brand.  And while the definition of a test campaign implies a much smaller cost, you still need to ensure those dollars are well spent and ultimately provide useful information to shape your advertising strategy moving forward.

Below are our top five quick-tips for securing the most data from your ad test campaign.

1. Establish Accurate Metrics.  In order to understand whether a test is effective – and ultimately make a decision on whether it will be part of your long-term strategy – you need to specifically correlate customer response to a particular ad or campaign.  Using a distinct phone number, web page or sales code or phrase to pursue an offer are simple ways to track responses.

2. Test competitive outlets.  Use the same creative to reach two different outlets at the same time.  Be sure to establish measurable outcomes to track the results from each outlet separately. You may learn that advertising in the leading trade magazine is ineffective, but that its competitor delivers impactful results.  If you simply had tested with the leader, you may have decided not to pursue advertising at all.

3. Test different messages with the same outlet. Similarly, once you understand your best medium, try testing different messaging with the same audience to determine what drives the best results.

4. Provide a very specific call to action. This goes hand-in-hand with the importance of establishing metrics for a test campaign. Use the test as an opportunity to drive a specific action among your prospects.  A high level branding campaign takes time and frequency to deliver results, and therefore is not conducive to a test campaign.  Instead of trying to change a perception or raise awareness in general, use a test campaign to drive a measurable behavior.  This will enable you to know sooner whether the campaign has been effective.

5. Always ask for more.  Ad sales reps use test campaigns as a way to secure long-tem advertising commitments, and they understand that the more effective a test is, the better chance you will become a regular customer.  Always ask for multi-media support when running a test campaign (i.e. ask for no-cost banner ads to support your radio test, or ask for an e-blast sponsorship to support your magazine ad).

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.