Early stage ad testing on the Amplify Suite

This article is an FAQ for those looking to understand more about early ad idea and storyboard testing with Amplify. While much of the guidance can be applied to the benefits of early stage ad testing more generally, these recommendations are specifically geared toward users of Amplify. If instead you are looking for information on the Creative Suite, please click here.

Why test at an earlier stage (ideas or storyboards)?

Early stage testing has considerably more value than waiting until you have a final ad. By researching and getting a pulse check early & often with consumers you:

  • Make sure you stay on track in your creative development
  • Can improve at every stage, ultimately ending up with truly resonant and impactful creative campaign
  • Course correct early based on understanding consumer reaction
  • Only invest production budget in stories or ideas you know have potential
  • Can be sure once you reach execution stage that if it doesn’t land, it’s an executional finessing/understanding that’s needed rather than starting from scratch
  • Have greater certainty that all ads built from this idea within the campaign and over time are grounded on something that resonates and makes sense for the brand
  • Identify any social risk before production

How should I use early stage quant testing?

Early stage testing can be used to do 2 key things:

  1. Check if the idea has potential to be the foundation of stories and executions that follow and which have more potential where multiple routes are being considered
  2. Understand what gives it potential and why, as well as what holds it back so you can exploit the power in the idea when moving to execution

As it is purely about potential, and there is a lot that can be done to improve an idea and yet more to craft a great final execution that maximizes the ideas potential, the critical piece of storyboard testing is gaining an understanding of consumer reaction and understanding why so you know what to do next. 

Whilst idea and storyboard research includes both evaluative and diagnostic questions, the balance swings towards diagnostic understanding at this earlier stage, while it swings more evaluative at the latter stages. The diagnostics can truly help an idea be unlocked and executed in the most creatively effective way.

Read more about our dedicated early stage solutions:

How should I use the diagnostics?

The diagnostics serve two roles:

  1. Check how the idea and storyline has been understood.  If the idea/story hasn’t been understood as intended via the stimulus, then the evaluation will not be accurate.  In those instances, stimulus should be revised to better reflect the intended idea/story
  2. Understand what people love, what people struggle with, what is distinctive in the idea, what role the brand plays and why people react as they do.  This ensures that you can both improve at each step AND ensure you know what to exploit, make clear, benefit from in the execution stage.

How should I use the evaluative metrics?

The evaluative metrics are there to do a number of things (once you’ve checked the idea or story is understood as intended):

  1. Provide a starting point for understanding the overall potential, strengths and weaknesses of the idea/story
  2. Allowing you to compare the ideas/stories
  3. For learning purposes - evaluative questions enable meta learnings on the characteristics of successful ideas and stories over time

What are the key evaluative metrics relevant to this stage?

  • Reach - does the ad have potential to be distinctive to grab attention in the cluttered market? (if not, the final ad is going to have to do the hard lifting to cut through/stand out). Does the idea or story make sense for the brand or the brand make sense of the idea/story? (If this isn’t the case, branding the final execution will be much harder, relying on brand integration throughout the story)
  • Resonance - does it make people feel something?  Ideally positive, but at least something! Does it convey something of relevance to people? Do people feel they ‘get’ the idea?
  • Response - does it have potential to make the brand more appealing or make people more likely to consider the brand?

Should I be using norms for the evaluative metrics?

Norms exist to add meaning to scores. Without a comparison there is no way of knowing what good looks like. Is 3.2 good? Or bad?

If you are choosing the ideas/stories with the most potential, instead of relying on norms to give meaning, you can simply compare across ideas.

But if you have one idea/storyline, norms provide a useful way of understanding the potential of the idea.  At this earlier stage there is often greater difference in the stimulus presented to people and much more potential for improvements to be made by execution stage, and that means that norms should:

  1. Be used directionally and in the context of what you learn from the diagnostics.
  2. Be selected to be most relevant. If you/your business have researched many ideas, with consistent rules around your stimulus, use that norm first. If you have an idea that has gone on to be the basis for an execution that has driven great in market results, use that as a benchmark. Use tags to make relevant comparisons on ideas which are more relevant to compare.

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