Digital persuasion ads aren’t typically subjected to the kind of testing done for TV spots even as the lines between the marketing channels continue to blur. That has some practitioners calling for more ways to assess whether digital creative is working with their audiences.
One idea: test the creative in the digital environment in which the audience will see the spot.
“For most of us, we don’t know whether the job is done until we win or lose. A lot of those engagement metrics can be a red herring for what actually works. We’re still learning what the best metric is,” said Anna Bukowski, now an SVP at MVAR Media. “In terms of actually testing what works, especially with digital, you want to get it out into the field and test it from there.”
Even a focus group environment might not be enough to successfully test a spot unless the subjects view it, for example, while it’s playing on the side of a New York Times article they’re reading. “I think we could do a lot more of that,” Bukowski said.
On the right, Echelon Insights’ Patrick Ruffini said he has been doing a lot more of this type of testing lately.
“It was the most successful [thing] we did last cycle because it’s just been completely lacking in the campaign space,” Ruffini said. “This is going to continue to grow.”
Still, at the moment not every practitioner on the right is bought in: “The vast majority of Senate campaigns and committees are not really doing this testing beyond a focus group setting,” he said. “It’s not really something that most people are used to.”
Instead of doing targeted digital ad testing, many ad makers will simply release a version of the spot on Facebook and see if it generates engagement.
“That has zero correlation whatsoever with persuasion,” said Ruffini, who offers tests with a 1,000-person online panel for around $5,000.
“If the goal of the digital spot is acquisition, then do what you’re doing [with Facebook]. But if the goal is persuasion — I’m going to bring my TV campaign online and perhaps use digital as the canary in the coal mine for TV — then you really want to be using survey questions, and you want to be serving that to the actual target audience for the spot.”