What is Advertising Research?
14 Mar 2018

In the advertising and marketing industry, research is used to identify and define marketing problems. Research is often incorporated into the following aspects of the advertising process:

  • Industry or competitive analysis
  • Pitch process
  • Concept generation
  • Ad ideation
  • Consumer/target audience development
  • Segmentation
  • Ad pre-test
  • Ad post
  • Tracking the ad’s success
  • Branding initiatives
  • Content marketing
  • Thought leadership

Primary and secondary research are methodologies commonly used when evaluating advertising. Although this can seem like an unnecessary expense, it is far from it. As they say: “Failure to prepare is preparation for failure”. This upfront research cost allows your communications to be more targeted, set up for success, and ultimately drive more sales.

Primary research is research that is not already out there. There are two types of primary research: qualitative and quantitative.

Qualitative research is directional in nature and used to garner ideas and insights. Traditionally, this type of research has been conducted at focus group facilities, over the phone, or even in one's home. However, new technologies such as online focus groups, bulletin boards and social research have brought this type of research into the digital space which allows the research to be timelier and more cost-effective. New technologies such as virtual reality are revolutionizing this type of research. 

In advertising, qualitative research is great for the initial feedback of campaign ideas, concept testing, and bringing a specific target segment to life.

Quantitative research derives conclusions about specific target populations through methods such as online or over-the-phone surveys. This number-oriented methodology reaches out to a large number of respondents in order to be statistically representative of a population. Quantitative research is often used for advertising tracking research, brand equity research, concept testing, consumer, and segmentation research.It helps you predict if your advertising campaign will be successful.  

Secondary research uses data that was not gathered for the current initiative but for some other previous purpose. You can commission a market research company to develop a customized secondary research report, purchase syndicated research, subscribe to research databases, or simply conduct a web search. Check out our article about free research databases. Often this type of research is beneficial to advertisers when better understanding trends and the competitive and industry landscape. It is also useful if you are looking to conduct an ad audit of your competitors.

Advertising research is typically conducted by research vendors and commissioned by either advertising agencies or in-house marketers. This allows for the research results to be unbiased and gives an accurate representation of where the brand or ad campaign stands.