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A guide to early-stage creative testing

Why should you test early-stage advertising concepts?

Ensure they resonate with the target audience – the consumer is the ultimate judge of creativity.

Optimize advertising performance – turn good ads into great ones before investing heavily in production.

Effective advertising Captivates, Connects, and Compels – pre-testing can help understand the strength of the emotional response elicited by the ad, identify whether the brand plays a meaningful role in the story, and if the resulting impact on people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is on-strategy.

Choose from multiple creative territories prior to production to see which one offers the most potential.

Learn more about our Ad Testing solution

What are some examples of how we’ve helped enhance an ad’s potential pre-production?

Transforming a dull and unengaging soundtrack into an upbeat and uplifting one.
A story which was confusing and eliciting a muted emotional response into one which was coherent and emotionally arresting.
Transforming strange and disturbing characters into quirky and eccentric ones.
Taking a brand from having an incidental role in the story to being an active driving force behind it.
Changing a flat and monotonous voiceover into a livelier and more dramatic one – lifting emotional engagement.
Enhancing visual cues and sound effects to ensure the humor/punchline was landing as intended.

What type of stimulus should I use for early-stage creative testing?

While there’s no right or wrong format for testing early-stage creative ideas, we generally recommend creating an animatic.

What's an animatic?

Animatics are a series of static illustrations stitched together and played sequentially with the timing of each frame altered to create a sense of pace and tempo. When combined together with narration and a soundtrack they're a quick and easy way to gauge what the finished production will be like.

Key decisions which need to be made when creating an animatic are: (1) 2D or 3D, (2) Hand-drawn or CGI, and (3) Black & White or Color. 2D animatics utilize basic figure movements, while character and camera movements in 3D animatics are smooth and flexible. The direction chosen will depend on what’s needed to accurately convey the idea, while also balancing time and cost.

What is pre-testing in advertising - example of advertising storyboard

What's the difference between a storyboard and animatic?

A storyboard is a series of static illustrations accompanied by written frame descriptions, showing how the narrative will unfold step-by-step. Animatics use the same illustrations but are stitched together in sequence and rendered as a video. The length of each frame in an animatic will generally vary and audio/a soundtrack will often be added.

Can early-stage animatics accurately predict how a finished film will perform?

Examples of advertising pre-testing - storyboard example

What should I keep in mind when creating an animatic?

Ensure as close as possible alignment with how the idea is intended to be brought to life when fully produced. This means considering things like the ad’s mood, tempo, and pace. Clearly convey any facial movements or gestures which play an important structural role in the story. Equally, if character development/interplay is important, ensure it’s adequately emphasized. Aspects intended to trigger a strong emotional response (excitement, inspiration, etc.) should be appropriately supported by executional elements (including audio).

DON’T accompany the stimulus with a voiced/written explanation of the events transpiring – ONLY include what’s intended to be part of the finished production.

Align the animatic’s length as closely as possible with how long it’s intended to be when fully produced (a longer animatic can artificially inflate the idea’s potential).

NO static storyboards.

Ideally use at least SOME colour

Learn more about our Ad Testing solution or Get in Touch to chat with one of the team.