Advertisements can be researched prior to their release (pre-test) or after they have been released (post-test). Pre-tests are sometimes referred to as copy tests.
The practical objective of pre-testing unfinished and finished creative work is that it is more effective for an advertiser to terminate an advertisement before costs become so large and commitment too final. Changes to an advertisement that are made too late may be resisted partly because of the sunk costs and partly because of the political consequences that ‘pulling’ an advertisement might have.Once a series of advertisements has been roughed or developed so that its messages can be clearly understood, advertisers seek reassurance and guidance regarding which of the alternatives should be developed further.
Concept tests, in-depth interviews, focus groups and consumer juries can be used to determine which of the proposed advertisements are the better ones by using ranking and prioritization procedures. Of those selected, further testing can be used to reveal the extent to which the intended message is accurately decoded. These comprehension and reaction tests are designed to prevent inappropriate advertisements reaching the finished stage.