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Every 30 seconds, we are exposed to new information, thereby adding to the clutter. Having completed more than 200 ad-testing studies across 10+ sectors this year, we know the science behind cutting the clutter.

Ad Testing

Ad-testing is a research process that aims to understand an ad’s effectiveness based on the con­sumer’s feedback, responses and behaviour. It has become an increasingly important element in the research and business world. Every year, billions of dollars are spent by marketers on new ads to promote their products. Yet, only a handful (less than 1%) are deemed successful. In an increasingly fragmented land­scape, with consumers being bombarded with new informa­tion every 30 seconds, it becomes imperative for an ad to fulfil certain criteria before being rolled out onto mass media.

Qual-Qaunt Research in Ad-Testing

Both Qual and Quant are used in ad evaluations -typically. However, Qual is more useful when refining certain ad elements i.e., “how do people feel about the colours, the emotional connect with the style and visuals, the message” etc. Quant is more about taking a refined product and mass testing it to gauge reactions.

How is it done? 

In today’s world, the channels to disseminate an ad have vastly increased and so have the associated costs. Ads can be tested either before they are aired (Pre-test) or after they have been aired (Post-Test).


It is done before airing the commercial so that the probability of creating a successful ad increases. It gives a chance to understand the flaws and detect and eliminate weaknesses, thereby helping the brand to reach its objectives through the advertisement.


This is done after the advertisement has been launched. Post-testing an ad is often used to compare it with other competing ads by other brands. It helps clients eval­uate how their ad is performing when pitted against other ads in the same category and if it stands out within the information that consumers have been receiving from various sources daily.


The methodology for ad campaigns can vary, depending upon the client’s budget and requirement. For television ads, respondents can be shown either ad stills or a clutter reel.

Clutter Reel

Recalling the elements of the client’s ad is called ACT (Ad Cut Through) i.e. the respondent was successfully able to recall certain visual elements of the ad when it was placed within a set of 4-5 ads. In a real-life setting commercial breaks usually consist of about 4-5 ads. Recalling the ele­ments of one ad within it shows that the ad can suc­cessfully stand out from the clutter.

BCT (Brand Cut Through) is when respondents can recall which brand was the ad for. Sometimes, if certain branding elements are not clearly visible, consumers may recall an ad but assume it is for another brand.

Based on the responses received, we advise clients to make changes in the advertisement so that their brand is clearly recognizable. To take a popular example in India, people don’t need to see an Airtel ad to recognize the brand of cel­lular service – they can identify the same just from the jingle. Other successful jingles in India such as Titan watch­es, Bajaj Scooters and Maggi Noodles have all capitalized on their brand recall successfully in the past. Brands like McDonald’s, Apple and Windows can even be rec­ognized with only half of their logo.

How do we test if an Ad is successful?

Ad-evaluation studies require measurements against norms. Norms are industry standards for certain key questions that are asked to test the impact of an ad. They are arrived at by compiling the results from hundreds of different ad-testing studies and mea­suring the scores that respondents provide on certain key ques­tions. An ad is considered successful if it scores higher than the average on its key metrics.

Norms for an ad vary by country, category, respondent demo­graphics, methodology etc. A successful norms database needs to have multiple studies within; it to successfully filter a suffi­cient base for norms checking. To provide an example of why this is necessary:

Respondents in Asian markets such as Japan tend to Top Box ie they provide significantly higher positive scores even on mediocre brands. Hence the norms need to be country-specific.

High Involvement products such as ‘Cars, Jewellery’ tend to receive much more discriminating scores as compared to low Involvement products. Hence category level norms are important.

The Branded or Un-Branded Ad-Test Conundrum

If the objective is to test how the advertisement stands on its own, without the impact of the brand, i.e. based on its cre­ative elements, ads should be tested without the brand logo. This will help check if, in a highly competitive context, brand recall is cutting through the clutter. There have been examples in the past of consumers identifying a great ad with a compet­itor brand, thus, negating the impact of the commercial.

If the objective is to measure the advertisement’s impact along with the strength of the brand i.e. to simulate market reality, ads are shown with the brand elements.

Typically, new and emerging brands mask their logos since they want to build share on the merit of their campaign and because they don’t have large budgets to spend.

The Markelytics Edge

With its rich experience, Markelytics is the brand that stands synonymous with global research expertise and timely deliv­ery. It enjoys more than a decade of experience in conduct­ing research studies. The team has delivered more than 200 ad-test studies across 10+ sectors this year and has helped 25+ brands to save costs and resources.

We would be delighted to help you with any specific Ad-testing needs and tailor solutions based on the brand requirements. We assure you of scripting a success story for you. Drop us a line and take a free consult of your brand from our global experts who hold extensive expertise and enormous research prowess.

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