Imagine a scenario where a $674 billion industry left everything to chance. It sounds utterly absurd, doesn't it? When the stakes are this high, relying solely on luck would be downright bizarre. Yet, despite the advertising world being armed with a treasure trove of knowledge, research, and data to prevent such an irrational predicament, why do we still entertain the idea of taking unnecessary risks? 

Great Ads are Built on Stable Foundations 

In a recent article by Mark Ritson in Marketing Week, he highlights the importance of embracing pre-testing, stating that “it’s time to acknowledge that to push back against pre-testing is to reveal a lack of awareness of these changes, and the opportunities they present to avoid failure and improve effectiveness.” Ritson's insight comes in response to criticisms about pre-testing's perceived limitations, eloquently reminding us that pre-testing isn't a hindrance but rather a canvas for creativity. 

When we expand our viewpoint to embrace the global spectrum of cultures, it becomes apparent that few industries are as fixated—and indeed, as critical—of structure and data as advertising. Consider poetry, where structure is essential, yet each poem possesses its own unique essence. Similarly, fields like law, medicine, and economics rely on research and guidelines, yet outcomes vary significantly. Even in construction, where stability is paramount, no two structures are identical. This analogy resonates deeply in advertising: while core principles of effective ads endure, there exists boundless room for creative exploration. 

The Case for Pre-Testing  

Peter Field noted the significant strides that pre-testing has taken in recent years in Marketing Week. What was once only grounded in a rational methodology, has been rightfully transformed by thought leaders like psychologist Daniel Kahneman, as well as System1 (to use Field’s words). This evolution has enabled us to harness and validate the predictive power of emotion, allowing for a deeper understanding of the long-term business potential of advertising. Not only does his article allude to the striking correlation between emotion and long-term business effectiveness, but Field also notes that “pre-tested campaigns pull ahead of others,” contributing to share growth and the ability to maintain pricing power. In the case of advertising roulette, the odds are significantly in your favour with pre-testing. 

From newcomers to seasoned TV advertisers, pre-testing holds the key to significantly enhancing your return on investment. For larger brands with ample budgets for exploring multiple creative avenues, pre-testing serves as the compass to determine the most effective route in the market, instilling confidence in their chosen creative direction. Driving growth hinges largely on market orientation, a fundamental principle in brand building. Pre-testing presents the invaluable opportunity to gauge whether your assets align with consumer needs – after all, consumer opinion reigns supreme. Given the substantial investments in advertising and media for such brands, the stakes are undeniably high and while pre-testing may constitute a modest portion of a brand's budget, its impact can be transformative in maximising ROI.  

Tight timelines pose a significant challenge to pre-testing. Clients often ask about the best time to begin testing, and our consistent advice is to start early and test frequently. By assessing creative at the script or animatic stage, you gain the flexibility to make adjustments before final editing, streamlining the process. We advocate for integrating pre-testing into your timelines, ensuring it's a planned part of the process rather than a last-minute addition.

Create with Confidence 

At System1, we partner with the world's leading brands and advertisers to ensure that high risk translates into high reward. By doing so, we empower them to make confident, informed decisions at every stage of the creative process. Build a solid foundation for your advertising and create with confidence.

Discover Test Your Ad and Test Your Ad Creative Guidance at the System1 cabana at MAD//Fest or reach out to a member of our team today.

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