Dial testing has long been a tool of TV consultants and now some research firms want to give campaigns the opportunity to get the same feedback on their digital spots.
20|20 Research, a Tennessee-based survey firm, recently began offering campaigns the chance to get a digital spot tested by an online focus group at a much lower rate than the cost associated with an in-person panel. Ace Metrix offers a similar service and Echelon Insights rolled out a kind of dial testing for text-based content.
Online panels are still in their early stages. In fact, some consultants say that the pool of respondents isn’t large enough in a local area to get quality results, or the services aren’t yet cost effective.
Jim Bryson, 20|20 Research’s CEO, admitted it’s difficult to get an adequate sample size in a specific location, but said there are ways around that.
“What we recommend, in a small geographic area, is using in a hybrid qualitative methodology,” he said. “You get some likely voters and have them do the dial testing but then follow up with a more qualitative interview and talk to them about why the results came out the way they did.”
The software the company uses is similar to what respondents would find in a focus group. But instead of a dial, respondents use a mouse and slide the cursor underneath the video as it plays. “From a reporting function, you can then play the video back with the graph of how the respondent moved the slider,” said Bryson.
As messaging increasingly navigates online, the service can help campaigns turn around a large volume of tested spots quickly, according to Bryson.
“It allows campaigns to get faster, less-expensive feedback on their ads,” he said. “Time and money are the most difficult parts of a campaign. If we can help with that, there’s a high value there.”
Down-ballot campaigns can afford to use the service, but the cost goes up as the sample size increases. Statewide or national races are the target market, said Bryson, a former state senator who ran for governor in Tennessee as a Republican in 2006.
20|20 Research will work with clients from both sides of the aisle. “We’re not a political firm,” he said. “We don’t feel the need to pick a side and stay with it.”