It’s now becoming more than just prudent to pre-test ads; it’s becoming a prerequisite

We are living in extraordinary times.   A global pandemic followed by world-wide inflation.  Every business is taking a good long hard look at its financials and planning its path forward with diligence. The same holds true for cost centres like marketing and brand management.  What is the best way forward in these unprecedented times?  How do we make the most of our marketing dollar?

Well, we are not completely in unchartered waters. What we know from the GFC and from other recessions is that strong brands recover much more quickly than those with weaker equity; and those brands that continue their spend-levels during the downturn gain additional market share growth during the recovery phase.

That said, this isn’t a prescription for profligacy.  As before, those that follow the play book will know that every dollar must still be made to count.  This means being diligent about putting the very best copy out there and ensuring it is going to work as hard as possible before fully committing to the finished copy.   It’s now becoming more than just prudent to pre-test; it’s becoming a prerequisite.  Developing strong advertising is the battleground where marketing dollars must work hardest, such is the upside of creating the most compelling copy.

Increasingly, however, diligence is starting to run even deeper.  Not only is pre-testing now becoming par for the course, but the efficacy of the techniques used to scrutinise the advertising must also pass muster.   In fact, this actually makes perfect sense.  If you want to develop the best creative you need to know the techniques you are using to help you, are proven to be the best. ‘Validation’ is the new watchword and it’s no longer just the preserve of procurement.   Everyone is seeking the assurance validation gives.

Here is the checklist we seem to come back to, when it comes to creative evaluation and the validation that is sought:

  1. Can you prove your approach is predictive?
  2. Can you demonstrate you can improve and optimise creative?
  3. Do you use metrics that matter – ones with real-world outcomes?

It is no longer good enough to show your approach is analytical.  Being diagnostic takes you only so far.  Prognosis is key.  What will happen as a result….?  You might give a view on branding, but can you say – based on empirical evidence – the effect this will have on branded memorability once the ad is actually launched, and even more compellingly, how efficiently the creative will work in relation to the media lay down based on these results?  This ability to be prescient and to help plan is increasingly valued but, of course, it must be underscored by validation.

Now to the question of optimisation.  Kantar’s pre-testing solution, LINK has been shown to improve the ability of brands to cut-through and deliver branded memorability on average by 38%, which can represent a lot of dollars saved in terms of media spend.  Diligent indeed!


When it comes to metrics that matter there are two that stand out:  Brand Equity and Sales.  Both heavily validated.

Link completed MASB’s Marketing Metric Audit Protocol (MMAP), a recognised process for assessing connections from marketing activities to marketing metrics to financial performance.

“By putting Link through the MMAP protocol, Kantar has shown its commitment to helping marketing and insights leaders work with their financial counterparts to make confident investment decisions for their businesses.” Allan Kuse, MASB Executive Director & Chief Advisor of the MMAP Center.

In uncertain times, gold is often seen as the safest place to invest.  And, so it would seem, that in these uncertain times, marketing also seeks security, looking for a gold standard in their pre-testing approach to ensure their advertising is going to work as hard as possible for their brands.


Executive Director
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