How to Prevent PR Nightmares with Effective Ad Testing

Could your spot unintentionally cause a PR nightmare that leads to huge loss in sales and brand equity?

We’ve all had this nightmare. You created a concept that everyone in your team thinks it’s “revolutionary” and “it’s going to be the next Apple’s 1984 ad!” You are the office hero. You feel 100% confident and the spot went to production without a hitch. Your company spends millions blasting it out in all channels. Then it happens…

First it starts on social media, with tweets by people who hated your spot. It surprises you because you thought it was taken out of context and you meant well. Then the bloggers pick it up. Then influencers start to tweet about it. The storm is building… Next thing you know, major media outlets pick up the story, and your company has to go to damage control mode.
The good news is you can minimize the risk of PR nightmares – if not avoid it entirely with effective ad testing.

Let’s look at how:

1. Create an Early Warning System with questions around brand, likability, and social share.

Some of our favorite questions to ask are:

Did you like the ad you just saw? [likert, liked it very much – disliked it very much]
Overall, how did this ad affect your opinion of product/service mentioned? [likert, like it a lot more – dislike it a lot more]
Would you agree with the following statement:
“This ad is offensive” [likert, strongly agree – strongly disagree]

Potentially offensive ads have low likability, brand opinion, and high agreement on “this ad is offensive”.

2. Look at reaction graphs to spot the potentially offensive segments.

What are reaction graphs? Spot Trender reaction graphs measures your audience reaction to your spot as they watch your commercial with reaction graphs. As your target audience watches the video, they click up or down arrow button on the keyboard to indicate whether they like or dislike a section.

For example:



Assume you’re looking at a spot about a vacuum cleaner. When you look at this reaction graph, you can see potential trouble segments around 18s, 33s, and 58s. In this example, you would pay special attention to 33s, since it has the strongest negative dip. Note the elements in those segments, such as what’s being said, music, new scenes etc.

3. Cross check quantitative data with verbatims (qualitative).

Now that you’ve identified the trouble spots, refer to your verbatims to figure out what people didn’t like about them. Look through the answers and correlate elements participants didn’t like with the negative dips in the videos.
Continue from the example reaction graph above, for “What didn’t you like about the ad?”, 21 of participants mentioned they didn’t like the joke about marriage, which was used the the middle of the spot (33s). You can now filter those participants out by demographics to see what they have in common. With this data, you can get a general idea who might be offended by your spot and take steps to avoid it. For instance, you might find out that conservative females in the Mid West are offended by the joke about marriage. You can either cut it out entirely, or change it slightly to be less risqué.

Are you working on a spot, and curious how people would react to your ad? Your current running spot didn’t perform as you expected? Or you’re looking for peace of mind? Contact Spot Trender – we would be happy to help taking your spots to the next level. Give us a call: 408-412-9440 or email us.

Article I wrote. Originally seen on Spot Trender.

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