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Copy Testing Questions to Create Effective Ads

Market research 04 12
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Table of Contents

What is Copy Testing?

Copy testing is a type of market research used to determine an advertisement’s effectiveness based on consumer feedback and behaviour. It is a form of pre-testing and is conducted prior to an advertisement being aired. Copy testing is very beneficial for companies as it helps them understand whether their advertisement is effective and if it is able to elicit the desired response from its target audience. It also helps identify areas of improvement so that ads can be made more effective. 

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Why is Copy Testing Important?

Copy testing can be used to evaluate ads through any medium, whether they’re digital, outdoor, or television ads. It helps answer questions such as: 

  1. How memorable are the ads?
  2. What do people like about it?
  3. What do people dislike about it?
  4. Does the ad convince the customers to act in any way?
  5. Is the main message of the ad reaching consumers?
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Elements of Copy Testing

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Copy testing can be broken down into four core elements, that are:

  1. Pre-exposure 
  2. Ad exposure
  3. Post-exposure
  4. Profiling Questions

These elements help determine which ad concepts are most effective and worth pursuing, allowing organizations to better prepare their ads before airing them to the broader market.


Pre-exposure involves asking questions that help measure consumer impressions about the brand before they are exposed to the advertisement itself. Pre-exposure aims to establish a benchmark measure of consumer perceptions that you want to impact with the advertisements. Pre-esposure questions may ask about how interested the respondents are in certain brands, and/or their impressions of it.

Ad exposure

The next component of copy testing is ad exposure. This involves exposing respondents to the ad itself, whether that be a text, print ad, radio ad (sound clip), or television advertisement (video clip). 

These are a few different methods of ad display:

    • Clutter Display

Clutter display involves showing the ad in a realistic context. This means that the ad will be shown among other stimuli and advertisements. This method helps evaluate how the ad performs through the ‘clutter’ and helps determine whether the ad is effective at creating an impression in a realistic scenario. Clutter display is very useful when tracking the overall impact of an ad. However, it is not as effective in obtaining detailed feedback as respondents don’t pay close attention to a single ad. 

    • Isolation Display

Unlike clutter display, isolation display involves showing the ad without other stimuli and advertisements. The advantage of this method is that it allows a respondent to focus wholly on the ad in question and facilitates the collection of detailed feedback. However, the drawback of this method is that it doesn’t provide a representation of how the advertisement will perform in a realistic context among other stimuli. 


The next step is to collect feedback. This is called post-exposure and it involves collecting feedback and capturing reactions to evaluate the ad’s impact on respondent perceptions. 

In this stage, respondents may be asked questions such as:

    1. Was the advertisement memorable?
    2. What was the ad’s main message?
    3. What did you like about the ad?
    4. What did you dislike about the ad?
    5. What was your overall impression of the advertisement?

Post-exposure questions may also include a repetition of the questions asked in the pre-exposure phase. This is to evaluate any changes in responses due to the advertisement’s impact on brand perception.  

Profiling Questions

The final element in copy testing involves understanding respondent buying behaviors based on their existing attitudes. Questions such as “which of the following brands do you shop from?”, and “how often do you shop?”, can be asked in order to understand shopping behavior, as well as respondents’ brand affinity. This element of copy testing also involves understanding the role of price in a respondent’s purchasing decisions.


Ad Tracking: What comes after the Ad is aired

Once the Ad has been aired, ad tracking can be used to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the campaign after it is introduced to the market. 

The two main components evaluated during Ad tracking are:

  • Ad Awareness:

This involves measuring the market visibility of an ad to see if it is able to stand out among other stimuli and advertisements.

  • Ad Effectiveness

Ad effectiveness goes beyond measuring awareness, and helps identify the effectiveness of the ad once it is aired. This helps understand whether the ad is creating the desired impact on customer perception and whether it is affecting competitors in the right way.  

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