Ad Testing with Online Surveys

Online survey tools like Surveygoo provide more opportunities than ever to test adverts online. They can be tested as an embedded video, as images of a single advert or a series of images for a storyboard. As the costs of online reseach have fallen, it is much more afforable to test even ad campaigns run on modest budgets. Based on our practical experience, Surveygoo have five key observations on what to avoid when considering running online ad tests.
1) Define Your Target Audience Properly
Creating audience personas is a great idea for brainstorming appropriate consumer segments, but when it comes to testing adverts, it is vital that the target audiences are based on facts. Young professionals may well be the longer term goal of a products positioning, but if in reality the current audience largely consists of young families on average incomes and young professionals are not interested in the product, the ad tests would be irrelevant to them. It sounds obvious, but there are too many examples of ad tests which are tested on the wrong target audience.
2) Don't Test Too Many Adverts in One Survey Sample
It's tempting to test as many adverts as possible in a single survey, but this is a mistake. If each advert is 2 minutes in duration, and three or four variations of the advert are tested, that is 6 - 8 minutes before any questions are asked. Always consider asking fewer questions to get better quality feedback. Another option is to run different variations of the ads with different samples/surveys.
3) Don't Mix Brand Awareness Questions with Ad Tests
This is a common mistake, particularly if budget is tight, or a company has done little previous brand awareness research. If you ask brand awareness questions having prompted respondents with several adverts, you will not get a true reading of spontaneous awareness. Ideally, branding surveys and ad test online surveys should be run separately. Of course, it is perfectly logical to test reactions and impact on brand assocations as a result of respondents seeing creatives or adverts.
4) Don't Show too many Storyboards
Testing storyboards can be a great way to build in consumer reaction to support the creative process, but there is a danger of showing too many storyboards and burning out the respondent. This is also true if several different variations of the same storyboard are shown in a long questionnaire. It is better to show fewer storyboards and gain a better quality response.
5) Pilot Your Survey
Piloting to test the questionnaire and types of responses likely to be received is a good idea for any important research exercise, but is especially so for ad testing. Since online surveys typically take as little as 2 - 3 days in field, running a quick pilot should ideally be built into the schedule if possible. Sample sizes for pilots typically range from 30 - 300, depending on the available timescales and budgets. 

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