According to McKinsey & Company’92s Global Media Report 2015, global spending on media is forecast to rise to $2.1 trillion by 2019. In North America alone spending is expected to exceed $521 billion dollars this year. These are staggering amounts of money and these amounts don’t even include the cost for companies to get the ads created. So how are companies gauging whether or not their ads are working, and delivering a good return on investment?
Often companies rely on whether or not sales increased as a result of their new ads or if they received a high response rate such as increased visits to their website, online impressions, increased social media interactions, calls to their sales team, or even emails. But do any of these measures really tell companies that their advertising resonated with the audience and they took action because of what they saw from a new video ad or campaign? Unless the response is overwhelming and immediate, it is often difficult to determine results without implementing ad testing.
Ad testing can be implemented at any stage in the creation process from the beginning up until well after an ad is in the field. The greater the investment the more important it is to have a testing system in place. Testing such as focus groups are often used early on in the creation process to test concepts and/or storyboards. Later in the process, field tests, laboratory tests and surveys can be implemented. There are many variations of testing used but all have one distinct thing in common; they cannot measure true emotions in real time as these methods rely on recall and/or self-reporting and do not measure the subconscious thoughts and emotions that viewers hold. In order to gather better results, newer video ad testing techniques should be implemented.
Advanced Testing Methods
Methods like Facial Expression Analysis (Facial Coding), Eye-tracking and Biometric measurements measure what is actually being viewed and how viewers react subconsciously in the moment. Insight like this is invaluable, as creating positive emotional reactions is key to the success of an advertisement. Many advertisers are either not aware of this newer research or feel that it is too expensive to utilize for their campaigns. But with advances in technology, the fact is that this research has never been more affordable.
Eye-tracking tests where visual attention is focused while watching an ad. Are viewers focusing their attention (fixating) on the main points or are they looking elsewhere and missing the major visual components that are trying to be relayed? Heat maps are created showing the actual visual attention for a single viewer, a subset of viewers, or all viewers combined.
While traditional methods rely on consumers’ ability to articulate their own thoughts, Facial Coding facilitates unfiltered access to consumers’ feelings and perceptions. Facial Coding is a test of the true emotional impact an ad makes. Facial Coding tests genuine emotions being displayed in the moment as a target consumer is viewing an ad. Facial Coding research will help accurately identify both scenes where emotional responses were expected but the audience just didn’t “get it” as well as finding key segments that result in the most extreme facial expressions. Facial Coding can identify when a person is feeling Joy, Anger, Surprise, Fear, Sadness, Disgust and Contempt and to what degree.
Ideally, testing video advertisements with a combination of methods and at various stages of production is the best way to ensure that ads will have the desired effect on targeted consumers. Ideally, Eye-Tracking combined with Facial Coding would be the best one-two punch to deliver accurate results. Now imagine a commercial you recently watched. What do you think you were focused on the most? Which part of the commercial made you feel Joy, Anger, Surprise, Fear, Sadness, Disgust and Contempt? Would you be able to tell after you watched? Would you also be able to accurately recall where your eyes went or what emotional or physiological responses you had? Probably not; and this is why these newer methods are needed. The more methods and testing options that a company has available, the better the odds are that the final video advertisement hits the desired target and generates the appropriate emotional impact. Whether the video advertising is being used to reinforce awareness, drive conversion, influence preference, consideration, or build loyalty, companies can improve their advertising if they test new ads directly with their target consumers using these more advanced testing measures.