Can advertising pre-tests predict the longevity of advertising effects?

Date of publication: September 1, 1995

Author: Max Blackston


This paper starts by examining possible reasons for the lack of consistent in-market validation of advertising pre-tests. It is hypothesized that conventional pre-testing measures may not distinguish well between transitory and more permanent effects of exposure to the advertising, because they ignore - or fail to identify correctly - the degree of personal significance the message has for the respondent. The paper reviews the issue of the persuasiveness of advertising messages, from the viewpoint of cognitive psychology. The use of cognitive responses - thought listing - in the measurement of personal significance, and their relationship to advertising effectiveness is examined. In addition to reviewing academic research on this topic, the paper describes how the principles of cognitive response have been incorporated into an advertising pre-testing system that is now in use in Europe, America, and the Pacific region. This methodology is described, and examples of actual test results are included. The paper also includes the results and conclusions from a meta-analysis of a database of over 200 quantitative advertising pre-tests in which Cognitive Response Analysis (CRA sm ) has been used. These demonstrate that self-relevance, the key CRA SM measure, is largely independent of other conventional measures of advertising effectiveness, and support the hypothesis that self-relevance is the mediator of more permanent advertising effectiveness. The paper concludes by describing an extensive study which has demonstrated that measures of "self-relevance" derived from Cognitive Response Analysis are predictive of the longevity of advertising effects, measured in pre-testing.

Max Blackston


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