What Is Advertising Research?

Why successful advertising is based on research and data

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Advertising is the part of your marketing plan that uses paid, non-personal messages. These messages are designed to reach large groups of customers and sell your products or services.

Like all forms of marketing, your advertising will be most successful if it is based on high-quality research. This should be a regular part of your market research strategy.

Types of Advertising Research

Advertising research should be designed to tell you how effective your advertising plan is at reaching and persuading customers.

Your advertising plan is a blueprint that outlines:

  • Who your customers are
  • The advertising media you will use to reach them
  • Any budget and time constraints
  • Your marketing message
  • Benchmarks for success

This research is beneficial no matter what form of advertising you use, including print, television, radio, and digital. Advertising research can focus on different areas of the advertising process, including:

1. Target market. You may need to research the habits and preferences of your target customers before launching an advertising campaign. This helps identify who your customers are, what problems they have, what benefits they are looking for, and what kind of messaging will resonate with them.

Even if you have been in business for a while, researching your target market can be helpful if:

  • You are launching a service product that will attract new customers.
  • You are expanding your market.
  • Your advertising is not resonating with your target market.

2. Response to ads. Understanding how real people in your target demographic respond to ads can help you create a strong and effective advertising campaign. In this type of research, customers are shown different ads and are asked what they think about the products that are featured, whether they would consider purchasing them, and how well they understand the product after seeing the ad.

You can research customer responses to ads before you ever launch a campaign by showing competitors' ads to your target customers. This will not only help you understand their response to advertising, but it will also help you position yourself to stand out in your market.

3. Outcomes and success. Use research to measure the success of each advertising campaign. Understanding the impact advertising had on sales, customer perception, and lead generation, as well as its return on investment, can help you craft stronger advertising and make more effective use of your money. You can also use it to compare advertising across different media or markets. This can help your company understand whether it needs to revise its advertising.

Advertising research into the success of a campaign is most effective when that campaign has clear benchmarks for success as well as a way to track customer response, such as unique ordering codes, coupons, or web links.

Advertising Research Methods

Most advertising research is conducted in one of two ways.

  1. In-house research: Many brands conduct research internally. You can ask clients to fill out email or web surveys, answer questions after making a purchase, or track customer service interactions. This can provide information about how they located the product or the service that the company is offering. This type of research can also provide information on customer satisfaction.
  2. Third-party research: Working with an advertising research firm can ensure that your information is independent and unbiased. Research firms also have the resources to conduct more extensive research. In addition to surveys, they may gather groups of customers for focus groups, show ads to individuals and ask questions to determine what impact the advertising had, or monitor what participants look up online after being exposed to an ad.

Whether you perform your research in-house or work with a third-party firm will likely depend on your budget, the size of your business, and what information you hope to learn.

What to Do With Your Advertising Research

Once you have the results of your advertising research, it can be used to help you refine your advertising methods, choose more effective advertising media, and craft marketing messages that will resonate more effectively with your customers. It can also tell you where and how to spend your advertising budget to get the best return on your investment.

Advertising research helps you:

  1. Understand your customers
  2. Choose effective places to advertise
  3. Create stronger, more interesting ads that hold your customers' attention
  4. Use your marketing budget well
  5. Increase sales and grow your business

Well-designed advertising research won't just impact your advertising strategy. As with any component of your marketing mix, the ultimate goal is to increase sales and grow your business.