The benefits of agile ad testing

Agile ad testing is fuelling the development of impactful creative, allowing brands to move quickly and confidently, with the pulse of the consumer in mind.
30 September 2021
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leila buckley

Head of Market Activation, Kantar Marketplace

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The process of testing ads has long been a central part of creative development for many brands. And more recently, an increasing number of brands are turning to agile ad testing tools to evaluate the potential of their campaigns.

Before the emergence of agile methodologies, pre-testing often came at the expense of time and budget. With the emergence of market research platforms, brands have begun to adapt the way they conduct ad tests. Thanks to faster, more-cost effective tools that can meet even the most unreasonable campaign timelines, marketers can now be more consumer-centric; experimenting with bolder creative without fear of unleashing an ad that misses the mark or – worse – alienates people.

Demand for agile market research is accelerating

There are several reasons the agile approach to ad testing is gaining popularity.

Culture itself has become more fickle, and things can change in an instant. Timescales in our digital, instantaneous, social media-driven world are ever decreasing, while the competitive pressure created by consumer expectation for brands to be responsive are increasing. COVID-19 has also played its part altering the way we live and work. The voice of the consumer has never been more important, or more difficult to discern amongst the noise.

Agile ad testing enables advertisers to take advantage of the latest developments in creative testing to keep a finger on the pulse and meet these challenges head on.

Benefit #1: Agile ad testing accelerates decision-making

Agile market research tools speed up the ad testing process by focusing on core measures of effectiveness using automated processes and a standardised, simplified framework. This speed creates more time for insight, allowing teams to carry out frequent gut checks, quickly pivot and iterate to improve the creative in line with consumer feedback.

A faster and more cost-effective process also means that ad testing programmes can be scaled to cover more content – which becomes increasingly important as the popularity of digital advertising gives way to a myriad of campaign assets and creative variations.

Benefit #2: Agile ad testing helps brands meet consumer expectations

Consumers today have high expectations of the brands they interact with. They want brands to not only deliver great product and services, but also embrace what consumers themselves care about: society at large, make ethical decisions, and demonstrate how they’re helping to build a better future.

Addressing important topics may not always translate as intended and without access to consumer perspectives when launching bold creative, the potential to miss the mark on a campaign’s objective is much higher. Spain’s postal service did just that when it issued a set of stamps that were designed to ‘shine a light on racial equality’, but which instead were perceived by the public as sending out a racist message.

Research helps advertisers navigate the right way to convey brand values in a manner that resonates, and ensures that marketing content meets with overall brand objectives, effectively navigating important topics such as gender portrayal and inclusion and diversity. And doing the right thing happens to be good for business. Analysis of Kantar’s database shows ads that portray underrepresented groups in a positive way for example are more likely to be effective in driving both short and long term returns for the brand.

Benefit #3: Agile ad testing enables creative cut through and ROI

Brands are fighting for the spotlight in an increasingly crowded media landscape. And the world’s biggest advertisers are negotiating this landscape of ever-increasing advertising exposures by telling more engaging and better stories about their brands. This has raised the benchmark of what is perceived as ‘good’, making it harder to stand out. As a result, creative quality has a big influence on brand success as a key driver of profitability. 

The application of agile ad testing allows brands to be bolder and make creative choices that are required to stand out in today’s media landscape. Having the right data to validate your creative decisions can enable the business to take calculated risks that have the potential for big payback. An accelerated testing process also gives marketers time to think: less time designing and planning the research thus allowing more time for creativity.

The growing relevance of agile ad testing

Since 2017, the proportion of Kantar's creative pre-testing business that utilises agile solutions has grown at an exponential pace: from just 36% to 75%. And we expect the demand for agile research methodologies to continue to grow; ‘faster time to insights’ is still seen as a prioritised, but unmet, need by almost a third of research buyers, according to the 2021 GRIT report.

Once upon a time, the main objective for applying agile ad testing was to control budgets. With advanced automated technologies, agile market research solutions have become more sophisticated, more robust and higher quality. What may have previously been seen as a trade-off is now officially a trade-up.

Agile ad testing platforms like Kantar Marketplace have sped up the testing process, enabling rapid pre-tests to be carried out before an ad airs – with results available in hours. With timelines like these that deliver high-quality insights, it’s no surprise that agile market research has become a purposeful choice for brands that want faster, more focused insights that enable them to make better decisions, more quickly, and more often.

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