There are many evaluative research techniques available to marketers to measure advertising effectiveness. Memory tests are often used and are based on the assumption that a communication leaves a mental residue with the person who has been exposed to it. Memory tests fall into two major groups: recall tests and recognition tests. In a traditional recall test, a commercial is run on television network and the next evening interviewers ask viewers if they remember seeing the commercial. This type of test, in which the specific brand is mentioned, is called aided recall. Alternatively, the interviewers may ask consumers what particular ads they remembered from the previous day, and this is known as unaided recall. If the commercial fails to establish a tight connection between the brand name and the selling message, the commercial will not receive a high recall score. Another method of measuring memory, called a recognition test, involves showing the advertisement to people and asking them whether they remember having seen it before.
The persuasion test is another evaluative research technique used to measure effectiveness after execution of a campaign. In this technique, consumers are first asked how likely they are to buy a particular brand. Next, they are exposed to an advertisement for the brand. After exposure, researchers again ask them what they intend to purchase. The researcher analyzes the results to determine whether an intention to buy has increased as a result of exposure to the advertisement. Persuasion tests are expensive and have problems associated with audience composition, the environment, and brand familiarity. However, persuasion is a key objective for many advertisers, so even a rough estimate of an advertisement’s persuasive power is useful.
Public Relations Activities
To get a comprehensive picture of the impact of public relations activities, it is important to evaluate process (what goes out) and outcome (effect on the target audience). Process evaluation looks at the number of press releases, media articles or airplay the PR effort receives, and this exposure is measured using content analysis. Companies often try to equate the exposure achieved with the amount it would have cost to purchase the time or space at regular advertising rates. Public relations experts believe that a good article about a product is worth anywhere from three to ten times as much as the equivalent size ad in the same publication. However, measuring exposure this way has its limitations.
There is no indication of how many people actually read, heard, or recalled the message, or what they thought afterward. There is also no information on the net audience reached since publications overlap in readership. Outcome evaluation, therefore, examines a change in audience knowledge, attitudes, and behavior.
Event Marketing and Sponsorships
Sponsorships and celebrity endorsements are among the hardest marketing components to evaluate on a quantitative basis. They are, however, high-profile methods for increasing awareness but very dependent on public trends and media hype. Event marketing is increasingly popular as a valuable means of enhancing marketing communication. Although there is no standardized method of measuring effectiveness, attendance can be gauged, the total number of customer contacts charted and the level of consumer immersion calculated. The true impact of contacts made, however, will often not be felt immediately. Increasing awareness and enhancing image perception are the main marketing objectives but are difficult to evaluate without pre-campaign and post- campaign research.
Consumer promotions – coupons, contests, free samples, rebates, loyalty cards and offers – are designed to encourage trial purchase by new customers, repeat purchase by existing customers and brand loyalty. Therefore, consumer promotions are measured against these objectives. Coupon response rates can be measured, the number of entrants per competition gauged, etc.
Comparisons can be made with previous consumer promotions and analysis can reveal the key elements that increase interest. Timing could be key to success or it could be the face value of coupons or the prize choices for a contest. Entry forms also provide valuable names and addresses for future promotions and marketers can also seek further psychographic and demographic information from entrants to help with planning direct response communications programs.
The main sales promotion tool used by film commissions is specialty advertising whereby the film commission’s name is on something that is given away as a reminder – calendars, hats, pens, T-shirts and so on. Measuring the effectiveness of such initiatives, however, is difficult, although an innovative, ‘must have’ giveaway item can create a wow factor at events such as a trade show.
Direct Response and Online Communications
Response rates from a toll-free number help evaluate direct mail and direct response television messages. Also, much valuable information, such as sales and demographic data, can be gathered about prospective customers when they call. This can help with customer profiling in efforts to develop better marketing communications strategies to reach specific targets. Another method to assess impact, as well as collect demographic data, is the use of response cards filled in at the time of purchase. Internet communications are easier to measure in terms of hard numbers than any other form of media advertising. Advanced analytics can track every activity on a website to quickly determine what is successful.
In response to online consumers’ readiness to cooperate with online surveys, many organizations are using Internet surveys to enhance communications strategies.