Next week, I will be in sunny San Diego to attend the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting. My colleague Rob Kinslow will also be there, presenting ways to measure online advertising beyond click-through rates at a breakfast seminar hosted by Nature. You are most cordially invited (PDF).
Measuring ad effectiveness plays an important role in determining the impact of a campaign. The online realm utilizes many tools, and web vendors provide some stats such as click-throughs and interaction rates gratis. But how do you measure the success of your print ads?
Market research is the most effective way to learn about an ad’s performance. Either through focus groups or by conducting baseline and follow-up surveys, it provides key insight into the success of your ad. The downside is that market research can be time-consuming and may require additional expenditure.
Thankfully, many publications provide it free of charge. Trade magazines partner with research companies such as Readex or Signet Research to conduct readership studies of the ads in their publications. To take advantage of this, make sure you align your placement with an issue that’s being surveyed. Approximately two months later, you will receive the results.
The findings vary per type of study commissioned, but they typically include the same basic information — the ad is rated on its attention-getting ability and its information value. The studies also typically show how the ad performs against other ads in its category as well as against all ads in the issue.
Verbatim quotes by a study’s respondents offer further value by providing context to the ratings. When reviewing the quotes, sense the general themes to determine whether a positive or negative comment is a trend or an outlier. If you have great ratings, yet a handful of negative comments, these may be nit-picks. However, if your ad scores low and the comments reflect the respondents’ dissatisfaction, then it’s time to re-evaluate the campaign.
Additionally, when assessing the results of the survey, keep in mind the goal of the ad. If it’s to deliver a branding message, then the success of the ad’s visual is more important than its information. If the ad requires people to take specific action, then it’s more important that the audience sees its clear message than how they perceive the artwork.
These studies can also be useful as guideposts when developing future creative. Did the study respondents like the layout, but question the information content? Maybe they found the text useful but the image an eyesore. Or maybe you did the right preparation and understood your market to provide a useful message in a highly captivating manner.
I hope you score high marks on your next ad placement…and if you’re going to SFN in San Diego, see you there!
Brendon Basile is media manager for Seidler Bernstein and has been in the advertising business for nearly 10 years. A graduate of Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University, Brendon develops media plans as well as analyzes, evaluates and recommends print and electronic media options for companies in medical devices, diagnostics and the life sciences. A diehard Boston sports fans, he’s also loyal to the Syracuse Orangemen.