How To Use Consumer Surveys For Ad Effectiveness

Ad effectiveness research is as old as advertising itself. If you have paid for an ad, you are going to want to know how effective it was. This can be as simple as a store owner counting foot traffic or sales.

But with digital advertising taking over the traditional advertising world ad effectiveness has become much more complicated, introducing new layers of interest, higher budgets and up-to-the-minute analytics. 

What Is Ad Effectiveness Research?

Ad effectiveness research is a form of validation used to both build a baseline to compare to and ensure the efficacy of advertising efforts. Brands and agencies do this by testing things like brand recall, clarity of messaging, emotional response and more. 

Since the advent of online advertising however, ad effectiveness research has become more complex. Ads can be tested in real-time, with ad platforms dynamically swapping headlines, messaging, calls-to-action and more based on performance. 

Ad effectiveness research may also include testing different placements–where your ad appears–as well as different types of ad units. This will let the advertiser see which types of ads–banners, videos, site takeovers, search ads–work best to deliver campaign messaging. 

Using consumer surveys for ad effectiveness is an essential part of any ad campaign, offering benchmarks, brand awareness, message efficacy and vital context to any metrics you may have collected.

How To Use Consumer Surveys In Ad Effectiveness Research

Whether you are running a traditional ad campaign–billboards, bus shelters, direct mail–or a completely digital effort, or even a combination of the two, consumer surveys help you dig deeper to find out not only how effective you were at delivering your message but what impact your message had on your most important consumers. 

To use consumer surveys effectively, your testing strategy should follow a framework. We created such a framework below. Check it out to see how you can get started. 

Create A Baseline 

Consumer surveys can help you quickly get a baseline on just how recognizable your brand and products are today. Ad effectiveness is based on moving customers towards goals once they have seen your ads and seeing the impact. 

You want to get a sense of not only if people have heard of your brand and what they think of it, but also if they have heard of your products, have opinions on current messaging and can give emotional feedback on their feelings towards you in the market. 

In some cases, it may make sense to run the same survey both before and after exposure. You can do this either by running two separate surveys and using one as a control group or by using the first half of the survey to get blind perceptions or perceptions of old ads before exposing respondents to new ads. This test is more similar to creative testing than traditional ad effectiveness testing but works well for testing artwork, effective headlines and more.

Create A Tailored Audience

You have likely done your homework on the ideal target audience for your ads. Some consumer survey platforms will allow you to target just as effectively as your ad platform. So make sure your ad effectiveness survey matches your planned ad platform targeting. 

Part of ad effectiveness testing is making sure your ads appeal to a broad range of consumers. This is especially important when advertising to very different geographic locations. Make sure you test your copy in different places to ensure you are communicating effectively, as there can be variations in meaning from place to place, even inside the same country.

Create An Appropriate Questionnaire

Before starting any ad effectiveness project, there are a few things you want to be sure your survey platform offers to ensure that you will be able to accomplish your survey goals. 

  • Make sure to use a survey platform that allows for unlimited image, audio and video file uploads so you are not limited by ad type. 
  • Avoid bias by shuffling answer choices, writing survey questions effectively and avoiding leading or loaded language. 
  • Use survey skip logic to test different kinds of consumers inside the same survey. For example, if you have different questions for users who have been exposed to your brand or your current ad campaign than for those who have not, survey skip logic allows you to bifurcate those users to different questions. 

Once you have checked out these basic features, start building your questionnaire. Select your survey questions carefully, and make sure your questionnaire is built to achieve your goals. 

For example, if your goal is to determine brand perception, use a mix of open and closed-ended questions so you can let people respond in their own words. If you are simply looking for which ad creative your targeted sample prefers, brief, direct, quantitative surveys will work well. 

When to use an online ad effectiveness survey

Many agencies and brands make the mistake of either not using consumer surveys at all or not planning for testing as part of campaign planning. 

As a result, if they do decide they want testing, its creation is often rushed, which can return results that are not as beneficial as they could be or fall outside the strategy of the campaign. 

Including effectiveness testing in campaign planning will help ensure that any testing that is created is done with well-reasoned campaign goals in mind and will deliver the best possible insights, instead of a hurried request at the last minute. 

As with targeting and questionnaire creation, campaign goals should determine when ad effectiveness testing should be launched. If you are testing for brand recall, you should allow a little time between exposure and testing to ensure that your brand message was “sticky.” 

It should be noted however that because some survey platforms have dramatically improved lead times required for fielding a targeted sample, the days of needing 4 weeks’ notice to set up testing are over. 

It is wise, however, to discuss testing early, and make it part of the campaign instead of something tacked on to simply assuage the fears of marketers and clients. 

Ways Of Testing Ad Effectiveness

Forced-Exposure Testing

Test creative for instant feedback on the campaign’s image, video, or audio content without worrying about tracking barriers common with passive measurement. Compare results from the exposed group against a control group test to measure the impact on brand perception.

Pre/Post Study

Run a brand study among the target audience before the campaign launch to get a baseline of perceptions and the competitive landscape. Launch the same survey when the campaign ends to measure the impact on brand perception.

Matched Market Study 

In a geo-targeted campaign, run a test in that market during the campaign as well as a “control” market where no media is running. Measure the differences between markets to understand the impact. 

Survey Template For Ad Effectiveness

To help you get started, you can use the Pollfish Ad Effectiveness survey template. Make sure to keep the best practices for creating survey questionsrespondent experience, and platform in mind when developing your questionnaire for the best results.