Copy Test Methods to Pretest Advertisements

Document Type

Contribution to Book

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Source Publication

Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing

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We define advertising copy testing, describe the major copy test methods using case examples, discuss each method's strengths and limitations, and identify areas of debate. The case examples were selected based on the authors' direct experiences and the methodological rigor of the methods. We define advertising copy testing as a quantitative and qualitative marketing research method that is used to pretest advertisements where numerical data on effects is collected and statistically analyzed. We discuss three copy test methods that apply the principles of sound copy testing that were developed by US advertising agencies, which require that the methods (i) be relevant to the objectives, (ii) have agreement about the use of results, (iii) use multiple measurements, (iv) be based on a model of human response, (v) consider multiple exposures, (vi) test comparably finished executions, (vii) control the exposure context, (viii) define the relevant sample, and (ix) demonstrate reliability and validity. To this list, we add (x) take baseline (i.e., pre-exposure) measurements and/or use control groups, because this reflects sound and generally accepted research standards. Our three case examples of sound copy test methods come from the US National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, the US Federal Trade Commission, and the ARSgroup, a major copy test firm.


“Copy Test Methods to Pretest Advertisements," in Wiley International Encyclopedia of Marketing. Eds. Jagdish N. Sheth and Naresh K. Malhotra. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley, 2011. DOI.