How is Speed Changing Creative Testing?

Posted by Angela Jeffrey on Feb 23, 2017 11:57:29 AM

Today's interview with J.J. Klein, ABX Chairman, and Gary Getto, ABX President, focuses on how speed is changing the copy testing paradigm. Four real-life examples of how copy testing in 24 hours made a huge difference for major brands are included.


It’s 3 p.m. on Wednesday. The CMO of the world’s largest retailer needs to know which of three TV spots should air on Friday. He could have over-ridden his advisors, but is a strong believer in using data, not gut instinct. We evaluated the three ad options and one outperformed the others by 20%. Results were delivered in 24 hours, well before air-time, and he was delighted.

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Major advertisers like Unilever and Procter & Gamble have both expressed concern that the current timeline and cost for copy testing doesn’t fit today’s needs.  The issue of speed in creative testing has become critical in our world of instantaneous marketing demands, so legacy custom testing is becoming more of a luxury for the most important creative, but isn't useful for the other 98% of untested creative today.

To better understand the value of speed in copy testing, and what the norm has been to this point, I spoke with JJ Klein and Gary Getto of ABX.

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According to Klein, it used to take 5-6 weeks to test an ad in a mall intercept, which was standard before the internet.  Today, the norm for legacy testing is 2-3 weeks for a copy test, except for premium rush jobs, which can be done in 5-7 days. Newer, more agile systems like that from ABX deliver results in 24-48 hours. What are some of the advantages of this kind of speed in copy testing?

Mitigation of Investment Risk

According to Klein, 24-hour creative testing is like a marketing investment insurance policy to mitigate your advertising investment risk. Only about 2% of creative is currently tested.  However, ABX has now tested more than 100,000 ads and seen that at least 65% of all ads fall into the “underperforming” category

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An “underperforming” ad wastes media spend since it will not generate the desired results.  So, by using lower-cost and standardized syndicated methods to test every ad and receive results in 24-48 hours, the client can quickly replace underperforming creative with better options, or until changes can be made to the original creative. The larger media budget is then never at risk.

Insights to Ensure Great Creative

There will always be a place for custom pre-testing of creative that is higher cost and lower turn-round because of deeper detail needed in certain situations.  However, for 98% of creative, standardized metrics provide the insights needed to assure the ad you are launching will perform well.  When the copy-testing process identifies weaknesses, all too often changes are made without a re-evaluation. The brand can not afford the cost of re-testing and most often, there is not enough time for one. With agile firms like ABX, results are available within 24-48 hours and retesting is affordable.

Continuous Improvement on the Mechanism of Metal Gears..jpegAs Gary Getto explains, “24-hour syndicated turnaround plus lower costs allow people to create, iterate, make changes and retest.  More important, they can be comfortable with the process.  Not only can they be assured they’ll get it right, but there’s a learning exercise to see how the creative adjustments perform.  This becomes learning to be used in the future." 

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Like the case study above, today's news cycle is so fast, management has got to have real-time data to make decisions to execute and market.  Here are a few more illustrations of how we've been asked to turn on a dime to get creative testing results back in 24-48 hours.

  • The CMO of one of the largest advertisers in the world had 28 ads he needed tested overnight to ensure statements he was about to make during a major speech were accurate. The ads were tested and delivered on time.
  • The creative staff of a major beer brand utilized consistent messaging across OOH, online video, and radio.  While online video and OOH were performing well, the radio spot was underperforming. ABX comparative data further revealed that the most effective radio ads in their competitive set used simple voiceover with minimal background effects. The radio ad was quickly remixed, simplifying the presentation. With no change in copy, the quick insights delivered by ABX improved the remixed radio spot 68%.
  • A retail client recently saw several ads from competitors that were compelling, and wanted to know how they performed. This client had a bi-weekly mgmt. meeting coming up during which he needed this information. Thanks to 24-hour testing,  the client had the competitor ad information needed to run his business on a real-time basis.

Are you satisfied with how you are measuring advertising effectiveness?  Is it resonating through Awareness and Message, and having an impact on Reputation and Action?  ABX provides the largest normative database in the industry across all media types. On average you can improve your creative effectiveness by almost 20%

If you have questions, or would like a quick, informal chat, please click here.


Free eBook: "Four Key Performance Indicators to Decrease Advertising Investment Risk and Build ROI" 

Written by ABX President Gary Getto, this brief eBook shares insights gained from the world’s largest database of benchmarked ads. You will learn the characteristics of powerful advertising and how it can better drive results through real-life examples. 

FREE: Advertising Effectiveness eBook!

How the ABX Testing is Done

ABX provides ad effectiveness scores from human respondents against 14 variables and in all media types. ABX Index values are a comparison of the results of an ad versus the average of all ads in the ABX database (100,000+ ads). Click for more information about definitions and methodology.

Topics: Trade-Offs in Ad Effectiveness Measurement