Creative testing

Billboard, TV ad, product packaging... whatever it is, you need to nail it! Here's how to make sure your target customers love your creative assets.

Why should you do creative testing?

It’s too risky to rely on guesswork when launching a new campaign or product. So how does creative testing fit into this?

To recap, here are the two broad reasons for running creative testing:

  • Helps you validate a concept—instead of using gut instinct alone, you can test your ideas with real target consumers before you sink a load of money into it. It also helps you ditch the ideas that won’t work, so you don’t waste time and money on them. 
  • Helps you refine concepts—don’t assume that your creative assets are working as hard as they could be! With creative testing you can find out what areas you could work on to make them more successful.  

When every cent counts, creative testing will provide you with the data you need to be sure you’re not making a misstep.

Key reasons you should do creative testing

Understand how your ads make people feel

Through creative testing you track audience reactions to whole ads and the creative elements within them. You should be looking to understand what consumers like about the ad, what they don’t like, and whether there’s anything in the ad that confuses them or that they simply don’t understand. 

Ultimately, the success of the ad will revolve around whether audiences find it memorable, and whether that memory will prompt people to buy.  

Find out if the assets are right for your brand

You might also want to figure out whether the creative you’re working on is right for your brand. Consumers might already have an established perception of your brand and how it makes them feel. 

Does your new creative contradict that existing perception? Will it change your brand image? This might be your intention; after a rebrand, for example. And if it’s not, you can rework your assets to reflect your values, purpose and image.

Risk-proof your assets 

Tone-deaf creative assets could do more than just impact your sales figures in the short term—they can cause long-lasting reputational damage too. 

No brand is immune from this. Even brands with huge awareness and sales, like Pepsi and Peloton, have launched ads that hit the wrong note and created massive reputational headaches. The benefit of mega brands like this is that they have the resources to bounce back—smaller brands might not have the clout to bounce back. 

Pro tip: Make sure you test your assets in whichever local markets you’re aiming for. It can be easy to trip up over things like subtle cultural differences and badly translated copy, so if you’re going to get anything wrong, make it happen during your creative testing and not once you’ve actually launched! 

Find out what action people perform from CTAs

What action do you want your audience to take after seeing your creative asset? Click a link to your website? Share the ad? Perhaps you need the creative to work as a standalone brand-boosting asset, in which case, the action might be to dwell on a new slogan or message.

Creative testing lets you trial different CTAs until you find the one that triggers audiences to perform the action. 

Find out who your creative works best with

Different creative assets may work better (or worse) with different audiences.  

For example, one approach could chime well with existing customers, while another might be better for prospective customers that you’re hoping to attract.

Creative testing can help you find out which creatives work best for different consumer segments. And with that intel you can more successfully publish assets you know will resonate with these audiences.

Pro tip 💡

“Do you know what segments you should focus on?

If not, you should probably run some market analysis or consumer profiling research to give yourself a clearer and more useful understanding of exactly who you should (and shouldn’t) be targeting.”
Nikos Nikolaidis
Senior Customer Research Manager

The Consumer Research Academy is brought to you by the Customer Research Team—our in-house research experts. Any research questions? Email or chat with the team.