How to Conduct Qualitative Advertising Research - Create Powerful Ads

Qualitative advertising research can help you create ads that sell.

If you subscribe to David Ogilvy’s big idea about ads, you want advertising to sell products and services.

During advertising creation and development, you use qualitative research focus groups or depth interviews to,

  1. Create concept ads
  2. Test concept ads

First, use information and knowledge from qualitative marketing research to create your concept ads.

Then use concept test interviews to assess preliminary advertising concepts. Show sample ads to your prospects and customers and get their reactions. You want to understand their beliefs, feelings, and desires. You find language and images that get attention, interest, desire, and buying action for your product or service.

Then track your ads and measure their effectiveness in the market. The sole purpose of advertising is to produce sales or sales leads. They are the only measures that count.

Testing advertising is the only way to know what works. Customers decide what works in advertising… not the creative director, copywriter, advertising chief, marketing officer, or CEO.

Let’s talk about the important parts of advertising, before we talk about qualitative advertising research.

Create Concept Ads with Qualitative Advertising Research

Create concept ads from your knowledge about prospects, users, and customers. Here’s how to create concept ads:

First, gather knowledge from exploratory, positioning, product use focus groups and depth interviews.

The results of interviews give you relevant information and knowledge about your target audience.

  • Behaviors
  • Perceptions
  • Opinions
  • Feelings
  • Beliefs
  • Values
  • Needs
  • Wants
  • Knowledge
  • Awareness
  • Media they use
  • Language they use

And, you find out what is important to target segments, using laddering.

  • Features
  • Functional Benefits
  • Higher order benefits
  • Emotional Benefits

Next, gather knowledge about imagery using projective techniques.

Ad Creation - Imagery, and Symbols

Imagery and symbols play important roles in advertising and branding. They evoke emotions and feelings. Emotional benefits are drivers of wants and needs.

Imagery opens doors to feelings and emotions. You stimulate feelings and emotions with imagery, and connect imagery to your product or service.

How do you find relevant imagery?

Use projective techniques to find out about imagery for ads. Projective techniques help with creative development.

Ask respondents to show you imagery about how they feel about a product or service. Ask them to show you pictures or drawings.

Images are often metaphors. They can be abstract or concrete; they can be anything that comes to mind. Note: For this exercise, images are not the physical representations of a product.

Ask respondents to bring or e-mail photos, magazine pictures, illustrations, drawings, and symbols to the focus group or depth interview. Then ask,

“Please describe what the picture means.”

Follow up and probe.

Here is another way to pinpoint relevant imagery: laddering research.

If you’ve completed laddering interviews, you’ll know what emotions connect to important features and functional benefits.

Show various images related to the emotions identified in laddering. Develop an inventory of pictures and show them to respondents. Ask them to pick relevant images.

Ask them how the pictures speak about feelings and beliefs about a product, service, or brand. Ask projective questions.

Use the knowledge gained from interviews to create ad concepts, and then assess the ads in concept interviews.

Concept Testing Ads with Qualitative Advertising Research

Assess how people react to your advertising concepts.

You conduct concept testing.

Show one concept ad at a time. Ask respondents to write about the concepts or complete a survey.

Probe and dig. Understand why respondents answer the way they do.

Complete the line of questions for each concept. Then ask respondents to pick concepts they like best and rank them. Rotate concepts with each interview to reduce order bias.

You want to test the major parts of each ad. Change only one part while keeping the other parts the same in all the concepts.

For example, test headlines. Change headlines with each concept, but keep the body copy and image the same with each presentation. By focusing on headlines, you’ll find out the best headlines. Headlines are important; their job is to get attention.

Unique selling proposition is another important part you may want to isolate and test. It differentiates. It helps people want to buy your product, not competitors’ products.

Check for clarity. Check whether people understand what to do.

Pick the best ad concepts and develop them.

Note. Concept ad tests do not assess awareness or recall about ads. Ad concept tests are relative ways of picking the best ideas for development.

You can ask about awareness and recall in interviews once an ad is the market. There are also various quantitative ways to measure ads. But the supreme test is sales. It is the best measure of all.

When you launch ads in the market, continue to test and measure. Try A/B split tests. Measure two ads against each other. Pick the ad that sells the most or produces the most sales leads. It is your control ad. The control ad is the standard for other ads to beat.

Use qualitative advertising research to develop advertising that sells.

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