Here are methods to make comparisons of responses for two or more alternative advertisements that are considered for a given situation (i.e., for a given brand, product, market and media). They are listed here from least expensive to most expensive:
Combine the results from two or more approaches to increase predictive validity.
Be conservative – and humble: Predictions of advertising effectiveness are very difficult. There is an extensive literature showing that people are overconfident. The "letter-F test" illustrates the findings. They apply to all of us.
Decisions about which ad to use are often based on an expert’s unaided judgments about which ads from a set will be most effective. By “unaided,” we mean that the judgments are not aided by formal evidence-based forecasting procedures. One of the most powerful findings from research on forecasting is that combining independent anonymous forecasts improves accuracy (Armstrong 2001). Structured combining procedures are likely to improve decisions over which ad to run. The primary shortcomings of combining expert opinions are that the procedure provides no advice on how to improve ads and, most important, there is a weak relationship between consensus and effectiveness. Given that, it helps to get opinions from many people, and to focus on experts if inexpensive.
The AdPrin Audit examines the extent to which a given advertisement follows the advertising principles. Its primary purpose is to determine the most effective ad among a set. It can also lead to suggestions for improving ads. Finally, it can help people learn how to design and improve ads.
If you are new to the Adprin Audit, go to the Self-training module. Otherwise, go to Rate Ads, directly below.
There are Excel spreadsheets for “Still” (print or internet) and “Motion” (radio, TV, and Internet) ads. When feasible, it is recommended that multiple raters be used for each ad, especially when the raters are inexperienced. The Administrator’s Summary helps to summarize across raters.
The report should provide specific operational changes that focus on the most important changes. Avoid mentioning what was done poorly; simply focus on how the ad might be improved. Provide reasons why each change would improve the ad. Provide support with links to original sources. If possible, show what the ad might look like given the changes; cutouts are especially effective for still ads.
Consider the following procedures early in the development of the ad, say at the storybook phase:
Techniques for Avoiding Legal/Ethical Problems
The Advertising Education Forum focuses on advertising and children. It provides academic and scientific research, including documents published by government, regulators, academics, industry, consumer groups and advertising self-regulatory organizations.
The Advertising Principles site summarizes all useful knowledge about advertising so that it can be used by researchers, practitioners, and educators.