Creative Test – Research for an Ad Campaign
08 May 2018
Launching an advertising campaign is an expensive undertaking. While producing the creative is one cost, the media buy can increase the price tag extensively. Not only does the ad creative need to resonate with your potential customer but also stand out from the crowd — regardless if it is a TV commercial, print ad, or digital banners.

The average consumer sees up to 10,000 brand messages a day. Today, people are often consuming more than one media channel at a time. For example, consumers often watch TV while playing on their smartphone and working on their computers. As a result, it is harder for brands to stand out in this crowded space.

Therefore your message not only needs to resonate but also be memorable and persuade your audience to take action (e.g. learn more, go online).

There are also several pitfalls that agencies may not even consider when advertising. It is key not only for your advertisement to be memorable, but also appeal to your audience.  Sometimes the smallest nuances may have a large impact on prospects. Is the advertisement somehow offending your target audience? Often people do not realize that an ad may be culturally or ethnically insensitive.

A word, a line, an image, or color may also prompt the consumer to think of another brand or industry. You need to make sure your creative idea works for your specific brand. Pretesting allows for instinctive/knee-jerk reactions from the audience and provides you with the safety net to prevent a campaign from having mishaps. It also provides recommendations and direction to further enhance your campaign in order to ultimately improve ROI.

How to pre-test?

Pre-testing can take many different forms.  Below are just a few examples:

Brand Concepts

The Highlighter Tool can be used to distinguish which areas of the concept are liked and disliked by your potential customers. Respondents can pick certain words that please them and highlight whatever has an alternative effect

Message Testing

Using the advanced analytics technique, MaxDiff, we can determine which message resonates most with your consumers. This trade-off analysis would tell which message will directly influence the target audience.

Initial Concepts & Messaging Combined

If you have many different images, messages, and support points, our Advertising Optimizer uses the advanced analytics technique, Conjoint Analysis, to find the perfect combination for your audience.

Print, Digital, and Storyboard Sentiment Testing

This technology allows the exact dimensions of a print or display ad. Respondents can click on what they like vs. dislike. You can also use this technology as multiple frames of a story to gain feedback for a commercial before it is in video format.

Commercial or Radio Concepts

As the video or audio plays, respondents click what they like vs. dislike and have the ability to provide feedback in real time.

What’s vital to remember market research before launching an advertising campaign is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That is why at Provoke Insights, we look at each campaign’s business objectives, target audience, industry, and competition before developing a concise research plan.

It is worth your while to save time, money, and face to invest in research and get the creative right the first time.

Types Of Research Every Advertiser Should Know
08 May 2018
Are you involved in your company’s advertising campaign? Do you work at an advertising agency? If so, market research may be key to enhancing your advertising initiatives!

Below, we will discuss four popular market research methods that every advertiser should know and we will synopsize why businesses should consider using it.

  1. Target Audience & Segmentation Research
  2. Creative Testing & Concept Exploration
  3. Research for Content Marketing
  4. Brand Tracking


Target Audience & Segmentation Research

Who is your target audience? Who has the highest propensity to not only purchase your product or service but also have the highest Lifetime Value?

If you are launching a new product or just reevaluating your audience, it’s time to know which segment is most profitable.

It is also important to consider segmentation  – your marketing and advertising can’t speak to everyone all of the time – you may want to prioritize cohorts or use a segmentation to optimize your media and messaging.

Creative Testing & Concept Exploration

Are you launching a new advertising campaign? Prior to launch,  test your creative and concepts. This allows you to leverage your advertising and messaging to its fullest extent without having to learn from your mistakes. If you think you might need concept testing or optimization of creative research – we have two blogs on them here and here.

Research for Content Marketing

Research for content marketing makes your brand a thought leader by using research to get press placements. Bring your research to life by using it as a catalyst for B2B and B2C awareness, engagement, lead generation, and conversion. Tactics include online videos, infographics, sales materials, email marketing, thought leadership pieces, press releases, and guerrilla efforts.

Brand Tracking

Have your advertising initiatives made an impact? That is why it is pertinent to start tracking your marketing initiatives even before you launch a campaign. Once the advertising is launched, the desired outcome is campaign memorability, consideration, likely to use and recommend. This type of research also gauges how it is performing compared to your competitors.

For all of the reasons mentioned above, businesses should consider market research for their advertising and branding strategy it is one of the most effective methods to improve your ad campaigns ROI (return on investment).

Segmentation Research and Creating Personas
02 May 2018

Written by: Rachael Ryan

Segmentation studies allow for you to walk in the shoes of different consumers, so you can really understand their buying habits and interests. We’re going to discuss the importance of research and how you can use a segmentation study to create personas.

Segmentation is the process of conducting market research using a survey tool in order to group similar consumers by their purchasing habits, their common needs and attitudes. Segmentation can take many forms, two of which are ‘Needs-based segmentation’ and the second is ‘Attitudinal segmentation’. Then advanced analysis such as conjoint analysis or hierarchical cluster analysis is often used on the data that is gathered.

Once you have your segments, you can prioritize them. This can be done by determining who has the highest propensity to purchase your product as well as tell you how much they are willing to spend and each group’s lifetime value. This is invaluable information because then, your target audience will be the people who already want to buy your product and at a price that they want to pay. It will also allow you to understand the size of each segment, what percentage of the population they are and therefore you can understand each segment’s potential worth to you.

Segmentation will also allow you to find out what may have been missed opportunities in the past. You’ll be able to figure out which audiences are spending money on other similar items and what would make them switch their purchasing habits to your product/service. These segments can be targeted too.

Once you know who your segments are, bring them to life, by creating a persona. If there are various segments – you can pick out the similar traits, beliefs, behaviors, attitudes and values they have and make one persona that you can then market to. It makes marketing to your segments easier, cheaper and more effective. We can see what your persona thinks and how your brand fits into that mindset.

Segmentation has many benefits and it is very important. But by creating personas you can walk in your consumer’s shoes. Name your persona (ie. Jack!), you can even draw them for everyone to see, understand their thinking and then you’ll know who you’re trying to get your message across to. When done right, it’s a great way to totally comprehend your segmentation and use it efficiently for every marketing strategy.

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Tech Companies, What’s Your Marketing Strategy?
05 Feb 2018
In 2018, the technology industry is expecting to continue to grow at record rates. As technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence), voice, and virtual reality are gaining popularity, new start-ups are emerging and current companies are integrating these new technologies. This is great for the consumer, but it causes an extremely competitive environment for tech start-ups. These companies become drowned out in the saturated marketplace and often fail before they’re even noticed. Often leadership believes the innovation is good enough to sell itself- but that is not true.

 What can you do to stand out from the competition? How can you get your message heard in a crowded marketplace?

Well, it is all down to brand strategy or positioning strategy. In fast-growth companies, like tech startups, it is vital to position your brand for success. In order to be best positioned, it is important to be aware of:

  1. Who you are targeting?
  2. What resonates with that audience?
  3. Where they will see your brand’s content?
  4. How they will interact with your brand?

1. Who you are targeting

Before you launch or soon after, target audience research will be your best friend. What age are they? What are their past times? What brands do they already invest in? We have written a blog on this here, if you want to read more.

2. What resonates with that audience?

Concept testing, messaging testing, idea testing. This type of research is all done very easily and it is something that will pay off for you in the long run. When you are so close to something – ie. working on a brand or website for months – it is hard to recognize what might not resonate with your audience.

3. Where will your audience first interact with your brand’s content?

What channels are your audience engaged in? Do they use social media? If so, which platforms? What television or streaming services do they subscribed to? What radio do they listen to? Do they have a smart speaker in their homes? What podcasts are on their radar? This is just a sample of the mine of knowledge you should gather about your audience before diving into a strategy.

4. How will they interact with your brand?

Lastly, considering you are a tech company and presumably, the brand is based online and has websites/apps as well as an e-commerce site, it is essential to conduct User Experience  (UX) research too. How will your audience use your website? What will funnel them through the purchasing process with more ease and with fewer cart abandonments? What user interface will make them want to visit your homepage and take a look.

With all of this research, you will be best setup to reach the right audience, at the right time, in the right place, and have them enjoy the experience. Even one or two of these techniques will help your tech company soar and grow at the high-speed rate you want it to. Provoke Insights, a brand strategy and market research firm based in New York City, offers all of these research capabilities. To find out more, contact us at or sign up to receive our newsletter to learn more about the company.

Beauty Industry… Understanding Gen Z
09 May 2017
Written by: Rachael Ryan

The beauty and skin care industry conduct research and lots of it. No beauty or skin care product can come onto the market without a lot of scientific research behind it. These industries are renowned for doing focus groups and testing product concepts through qualitative research. We’re looking at the importance of understanding your target audience beyond focus groups.

The industry is rapidly changing – there is an increasing demand for anti-aging products, there are more and more people that are chemical conscious and who only want organic or natural products and finally, competition is higher than ever with the sheer volume of beauty products that are available on the market today; it’s a multibillion-dollar industry.

Not only have these changes occurred but the landscape in which these beauty products are available in is ever changing – ten years ago if you launched a product solely through digital advertising or by paying influencers (who did not exist at the time), your product wouldn’t get very far. Now, beauty and fashion magazines, which were once the be all and end all, are becoming irrelevant. Today, bloggers are getting paid anything from $100 to 7 digit figures for ads and sponsored posts. ‘Something Navy’ (a digital influencer) spoke about a product on Snapchat recently and within 24 hours that product sold over 500 units or $17,000 worth of product.

Considering that and the fact that ad spend on digital will outspend television in 2017, it’s important that the beauty and cosmetic industry is reaching the right audience and knows who to target and how. Millennials and Gen Z are different and need to be understood differently. By 2020, 40% of consumers are going to be Generation Z. So now we must understand the complexities and differences between Gen Z and their older relative Millennials.

The focus groups and product concept sessions have been helpful, but it’s time to find out more. What is it that each person wants from their beauty products or skincare routine in 2017. We know that 24% of women often use products and don’t get the results that they want from them. Isn’t it time to find out why and conduct widespread research to fully understand the industry and know how to best deal with the evolving marketplace.

This post is part of the industry-specific blog series on Provoke Insights. Read more about other industries like jewelryand technology.

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Concept Exploration: The Highlighter Research Tool
11 Apr 2017

Written by: Rachael Ryan

Concept development is difficult. What is the ideal message to describe the concept? It is the combination of art and science to craft the perfect imagery and set of words. Yet, how do you know if you have the best possible description? That is where research comes in!

The Highlighter is the perfect way to explore the various concepts that you may be mulling over and you can chop and change your concepts with the data collected to make the perfect one.  The research tool that allows you to understand your target audience’s initial thoughts about a concept and the way it is written. How does it work? It’s simple. It is a dynamic blend of qualitative and quantitative research.

Firstly, the participant can use their cursor to highlight a specific part of the text and a pop-up will appear. The pop-up will prompt the user to indicate whether they like or dislike the text or wording. Secondly, there’s an opportunity for the participant to provide an open-ended response to the text. This questioning will determine initial feedback to the concepts and if the concepts are relatable to the consumers.

The highlighter allows you to get a very granular point of view and pinpoint consumers likes and dislikes about specific wording in the concept. The tool prompts respondents to explain their word preference. Concept exploration allows you to refine concepts for further stages of research without needing to invest a significant amount of time or money. The consumer can even layer their highlighting to emphasize what they really like or really don’t like. The process is simple to execute and it’s effective. From there, you’ll be better informed to continue with the campaign and with the feedback you receive, your concept will be the most effective it can be. You can then continue to research with a carefully curated concept. It will be vital to research who your target audience is and where the concept will best resonate.

Why is this blend of methodologies suitable for concept exploration? Not only is it easy for the consumer to use, it’s also interactive so it’s enjoyable to use. The data collected is invaluable for the concept that is being created. You’re provided with qualitative comments on each part of the concept as well as quantitative data to back up the information so you can create a concept with confidence that it will resonate with your target audience.

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The Science of Naming Your Brand
13 Feb 2017

Written by: Carly Fink

Every year, Provoke Insights conducts Naming Research for several products and product lines. A good brand name sparks an emotion with the consumer.  The larger the name connection the higher likelihood that the name will  remain top of mind among your target audience. It is the cement that unifies the brand across all advertising and promotional materials.

Often a company comes up with a list of potential names that they would like to name the brand. A company may be internally passionate about a certain name but does that name really work? Which name ranks highest? Do the names resonate among your target audience?

A sure way to know is to test names utilizing Provoke Insights’ naming exercise. This survey includes:

  • Open-ended name association
  • Ranking of names
  • Testing the top names over 9 dimensions such as likeability and high quality.

The research can be tested across various segments to determine a name that works well with all prospects. We also have found names that could be potential offensive to the consumer or a specific demographic. So looking at the name across various groups of people can be very beneficial.

Testing names through survey research allows a brand to know which names are winners or losers. It tells you what attributes consumers associate with the name. Is the potential brand name perceived as high quality? Likeable? Memorable? Offensive?

We have save companies from disastrous launches. A name that might sound fun and catchy to a company may not resonate with the consumer. The consumer may have difficulty relating that name back to the product – simply put it could be a great name but just not right for the product.

Testing a name prior to launch is a sure way for your brand to be loved by your consumers. It also diminishes the risk of a launch going wrong.

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Market Research and New York City
29 Nov 2016
Written by: Rachael Ryan

For generations, New York City has been held in the heart of the world’s population as a land of opportunity, the city that never sleeps and a city where just about anything is possible. Because of that, the industries in New York City not only drive the state’s economy but it is a driving force for the national and global economy. According to Fortune, New York City is the ‘center of the business universe’. There are more industries, more companies and dozens of new start ups every single day. With that in mind, market research is more important than ever in NYC.

New York, the center of the business universe

Historically, New York has been the hub of numerous industries such as construction, media, publishing, tourism, the clothing and financial sectors. Lately, it is the hub of incalculable industries. There are also many new and upcoming industries and brands in the city, NYC is now home to new industries such as biotechnology companies and science industries; other industries such as the health sector, the arts and film industries are thriving here now more than ever. New York has so many new industries and innumerable established industries that it makes it difficult to stand out in such a competitive market. That’s why it’s more important now than ever to get your brand name out there and have it resonate with the right people. New brands need to make an impression with their target audience and more established brands need to reinvigorate their brand amongst existing and prospect customers. This seems like an overwhelming task in such a competitive market until you realize there is only one step that you need to take in order to make this a lot easier for you and your brand: research.

Where to start

Every inch of New York is wrapped in logos and slogans, sponsored and product placed which means that that valuable space is becoming more and more expensive. The New York City subway is laced with advertising and there are more advertisements in Times Square than in a lot of small towns. And that’s only one corner of the city; every single corner of this city has been marketed. There are so many that it all becomes white noise to New Yorkers. Don’t forget New Yorkers consume traditional media as well. At some stage, New Yorkers have to start drowning it out. Hence, if you don’t have a deep knowledge of your target audience – all of your costly marketing efforts will be drowned out and it will all have been in vain. The only way to avoid this is by researching your target audience before you do anything.

People are more different than they are similar

The population of New York City is projected to grow to 9 million people by 2040. People move to New York from all over the United States and from foreign countries daily. There are more people moving to New York City than are moving out. This means that the market is growing everyday and it is one of the most culturally diverse markets in the world, the people in it are more and more complex and less difficult to make assumptions about. New York is more diverse than any other city in the USA; there are more ethnicities, there is a bigger range of income, there are more members of the LGBTQ population here, and marriage trends are unconventional in New York– everything about everyone here is unpredictable. The only thing you can predict about a New Yorker is that they all more different than they are similar!

Therefore, your brand needs to conduct research accordingly if you plan to thrive in NYC.

For more information on how to research your target audience, have a look at Provoke Insights blog here. Market research can at times be time-consuming; therefore brands often reach out to market research companies, like Provoke Insights for a helping hand with this important research. As a New York City based research and consultancy firm, they have a great understanding of New Yorkers and the perfect base for conducting research in this complicated and sometimes dumb-founding city. Sign up for the Provoke Insights newsletter here.

Know Your Target Audience Through Research
15 Nov 2016

Written by: Rachael Ryan

Have you ever been to a children’s birthday party when an adult gives one child some attention, then before they know it, every child at the party is vying for that adult’s attention? But the adult no longer has any time to give to any child because there are so many kids looking for it – in the end, no one gets attention and the adult goes back to conversing with the other adults.

That’s the world today! You’re the adult and brands are the children. We gave our attention to marketing – once or twice, maybe a couple of hundred times – and now every single brand is vying for our time and attention. The more brands compete for our attention, the less time and attention we have to give.  As a result, we need brands need to more efficiently reach their customers.

There are more barriers than ever between you and your target audience. There are more channels from which to get information out there, there are an increasing number of social media channels, more apps, more news outlets, and more television series on more television streaming websites and TV channels, more adverts and more messages trying to be transmitted. All of this makes it even more important for you to understand your prospects and customers.

So how can you go about understanding your target audience?

Research, research, research! If you know nothing about your target audience in this day and age, you need to start researching. Research is the only means of finding out who your target audience is.

Find out your audience’s demographic – this is limited in its potential to present the motivations for buying but it will allow you to begin to form a picture. It’s limiting because it doesn’t tell you why – it tells you who the customer is (i.e. gender, age) and where they are but you’re missing the why and the how.

Straight off the bat, you need to understand your consumer’s goals. Why is your consumer buying your product? How did your consumer get to your product or service? Understand the problem or desire that your audience may have that will lead them to your product. In order to do that, you need to research the audience – research those who will be in the market for your product or service.

You might be thinking, that’s all well and good – but how can I get all of that information? Well, a survey will provide you with the answer. Research can help you determine not only the whowhere and what but more importantly it can resolve the mystery of why and how! Not only that, it will also ascertain which segment of your audience will invest the most in your brand.

Segment your audience through research. Divide your audience into segments and provide content specific to them. Make sure your content is consistent, shareable and of a high quality. Your marketing won’t get any attention unless it’s worth the audience’s while – don’t offend your target audience by contending for their attention via poor quality content. I can assure you no one will give you attention the next time you contend for it!

Choose how to engage your audience wisely. Where do they get their information? If your audience doesn’t listen to podcasts then don’t choose that as your means of communication with them. If they ordinarily read blog posts that they see on Twitter then don’t focus all of your attention on Snapchat.

Be true to your brand. Finally, we live in a world filled with skeptics; always remain honest and true to your brand. Consumers today are quick to flag when they are being fed nonsense and drivel – it will do more damage to your brand than good if you try to get their attention with content that has a spurious link to your brand. Be sure to remain authentic. That way, you’ll become someone that your audience trusts and wants to invest in.

Want to learn more about your customers? Check out Provoke Insights article  Four Ways to Better Understand Your Consumer. Also, you can sign up for our newsletter here.

Why Market Research is a Must for Businesses
11 Jul 2016
One of the most valuable assets of any business is its brand. Just as a house needs a strong foundation to stay sturdy, an effective brand strategy needs thorough market research. Far too often, businesses skip the market research process because the company claims that it already knows its consumers. However, it takes a lot to understand your target audience’s wants and needs. To prevent this disconnect, companies must first have a stronger understanding of market research and how and when to use it. 

For marketers, research is not just about filling in the knowledge gaps, but it also serves as the basis for good decision making. Research provides valuable insights about products, services, consumers, competitors and trends.

Now why is this important? Market research is essential for the planning of any brand strategy. The data helps ensure that you are identifying the correct opportunity by targeting the right consumer in the right market and satisfying the right need. Without market research, there is no substance or facts behind your strategy and can result in a negative return on investment (ROI).

There are three broad types of research: Qualitative, Quantitative and Secondary Research. Qualitative research is more open-ended and is great for testing initial concepts or ideas. Quantitative research is statistically represents the audience you are targeting. Secondary research is information that is already out there. Some research companies have access to several data sources in order to provide a comprehensive view of the marketplace.

For research to be effective, it is important for companies to have a clear understanding of the purpose of research and what information is being sought. Market Research professionals provide the expertise many companies do not have in-house.  Often these experts have the skills and the tools to execute the research accurately, efficiently and cost-effectively. In addition, these professionals also help bring objectivity to the result, thus, providing a clear and unbiased direction for business decision-making.

To learn more about market research, get in contact with Provoke Insights or sign up to our newsletter here.