Market Research in Advertising. Friend or Foe?

March 18th, 2016 by Kelly

Advertising agencies often rely on market research for three primary reasons: to gain insight into their client’s customers/markets (including better understanding of agency prospects), ad concept testing and campaign effectiveness. David Ogilvy (founder of Ogilvy and Mather) said “The most important word in the vocabulary of advertising is TEST. If you pretest your product with consumers, and pretest your advertising, you will do well in the marketplace.”


While the smartest agencies do their due diligence before a big pitch and suggest that clients test the waters before launching something new (name, product, ad, etc.), there are some concerns about research. Bill Bernbach (founder of DDB) said “We don’t ask research to do what it was never meant to do, and that is to get an idea.” And other folks feel that research kills potentially good ideas or may have concerns about the quality or methods used.


Like anything else, there is a range of quality and the outcomes are dependent upon using the right resources (quality panel, adequate sample size, experienced moderators and well-constructed surveys). The ideal research firm would collaborate well with the advertising agency and client marketing team to ask the right questions of the appropriate target market. And to mesh well with the creative team, they should understand the process and language. When designed the right way, the results should bring insights and confidence to inform better decision making.