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    Concept Testing to Ensure Success, More Critical Than Ever

    Phil Ahad, Senior Vice President, Digital Products

    The forces brands struggle with in advertising are all too familiar. They include a landscape of fragmented audiences, media, and content that present obstacles in targeting, planning and buying.

    Companies also face brand safety and reputational threats including fallout to businesses whose digital ads appear on websites with views that clash with consumers – or when the creative completely misses the mark with all consumers.

    To standout and be effective in this landscape, creative quality has never been more crucial in advertising. Sharpening concept development skills to generate and hone great ideas can pay off in getting creative right so it resonates with target audiences and spends ad dollars wisely. Let’s look at three steps brands can take to create an ideation engine that propels their ad teams.

    Always Be Listening

    Effective creative has a foundation in consumer understanding. One common theme among marketing innovators is how they bring together customer data from a variety of sources to form that understanding. This is especially important for in-house teams to ward off “inside think” that can create a blind-spot in comprehending consumer sentiment, preferences, and values.

    For listening to customers, social media provides an excellent gateway into the conversations about a brand, products, and service in the market. However, it is best used as a screening tool, not a deep dive. Market research tools, like online surveys and digital communities, allow marketers to acquire more extensive quantitative and qualitative information about targeted consumer audiences. They enable brands to understand the “why” behind consumer attitudes and action and ensure the voice of the customer is embedded into everything they do.

    Put Your Concepts to the Test

    Marketers operate in an environment where speed rules as they strive to keep up with ever-increasing customer expectations. And oftentimes, thorough testing to understand the overall strength of an advertising concept is sacrificed to keep moving at a fast pace. Brands need to stay in listening mode during the concept stage to weave customer experiences into their creative content.

    Concept testing significantly improves the chances of advertising success by establishing a creative process that involves customers. It allows marketers to identify which ad concepts engender sufficient consumer interest to warrant more development and which ideas should be scrapped; keeping the team and their resources concentrated on those offering the highest potential. Digital DIY testing enables marketers to test and understand the overall strength of their branding, product and advertising concepts in days instead of the weeks required with traditional methods.

    Optimizing ads at the early stages of the development process helps brands fine-tune copy and creative before too much time and money are committed. Testing provides a way to gain real-time consumer feedback on potential outcomes, such as which version of an ad’s call-to-action will perform better in triggering target customers to act. By using norms established from previous ads, testing tools can compare a concept against past tests to evaluate expected results.

    Research Expertise Can be Built into the Survey Engine and Reporting

    The more marketers can do themselves, the farther their budgets can go to reach customers. This is especially true for companies with limited resources. Technology has never been more accessible to marketing and advertising professionals and plays a major role in making do-it-yourself (DIY) possible.

    Digital DIY products build in proven methodologies and robust features so that marketers don’t need to be tech experts or versed in complex methods to use them. These online tools provide direct access to marketing, advertising and market research technology, supporting a hands-on business culture that drives innovation. They fit well with today’s environment where markets and consumer sentiment can quickly change and marketers need to adapt or create entirely new initiatives in short order.

    For example, automated research allows marketers to test concepts easily and quickly. DIY ad concept testing technology requires nothing more than the ability to upload the appropriate media or advertisement. It helps brands deepen their consumer understanding without sacrificing speed to gain in-the-moment insights which drive evidence-based concept optimization.

    The following is an example of an automated ‘concept test’ built and the output generated.  In this example, we looked at the new iPhone 8 and various price points.  See for yourself: http://bit.ly/2xrJaTU

    Concept Testing Pays Off

    For many businesses, the stakes related to advancing brand and products have never been greater. Putting in place the culture, tools, and processes to better understand targeted consumers and leverage insights gleaned from that understanding creates the engine to develop and sharpen inspired ad ideas which drive business results. That engine positions brands to up-level their creativity to standout in a challenging ad environment.

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