Promotion Testing Research

In the world of marketing, consumer promotions can be described as a vast wasteland. Large sums of money are spent on promotions of dubious merit and unknown effects.

Promotion Testing Services

Fewer than one out of every 100 promotions is submitted to any type of pretesting or research evaluation. Once promotions are aired, they are very difficult to evaluate based on sales response because of competitive activity, seasonality, weather, and other confounding variables. So the average company really does not know if its promotional investments are a boon or a boondoggle. To help improve promotion effectiveness, Decision Analyst offers these services.

PromotionOpt™ (Promotion Optimization)

PromotionOpt™, a Decision Analyst proprietary system, is used to help create prototype promotional concepts by determining the optimal combinations of the variables.

How Does PromotionOpt™ Work?

Once the basic variables of effective promotions for a brand are identified, based on qualitative research and/or ideation, PromotionOpt™ is a research service to help create prototype promotional concepts, using choice-modeling experiments. Different offers, messages, themes, illustrations, imagery, etc., can represent thousands of possible promotions. PromotionOpt™ tests subsets of all of these possibilities to predict the effectiveness of every possible combination of promotional elements. Each respondent usually sees 5 to 10 scenarios (i.e., combinations of variables). Choice modeling is used to derive the potential selling value of all possible combinations. The top-10 or top-15 promotional concepts thereby identified are ready for normal quantitative testing.


PromotionScreen® is a low-cost comparative promotional screening system to evaluate early-stage promotion ideas and concepts in batches of 10 to 20 at a time, typically in print ad format.

How well a promotion works depends on the strength of its appeal and its fit to the category and brand. PromotionScreen® allows a large number of promotional ideas/concepts to be evaluated at relatively low cost. The greater the number of promotional ideas tested, the more likely it is that really outstanding promotional ideas/concepts will be identified.

How Does PromotionScreen® Work?

The promotional concepts or ideas are translated into rough print ads—each consisting of a headline, an illustration, and the promotional text (or the concept can be text only). A sample of 200 to 300 target-audience consumers are recruited to review and evaluate the rough print ads via the Internet.

Each respondent sees all of the rough print ads (up to 20) twice. First, the respondent reviews all of the promotional ads or ideas. After the second viewing, the respondent answers questions about each ad. The answers to these questions feed into a mathematical model that computes an overall index score for each ad. These comparative index scores identify the promotional concepts and ideas that are worthy of further development and testing.


It is an Internet-based, monadic promotion pretesting system that evaluates early-stage promotional ads and storyboards. Detailed diagnostic feedback helps in refining the promotion's concept.

PromotionCheck® is designed to tell you approximately "how good" the promotion is and to provide rich diagnostic feedback in the form of verbatim comments to help you "flesh out" and improve the promotion before it is aired or is submitted to a more comprehensive evaluation.

How Does PromotionCheck® Work?

A representative sample of target-audience consumers are recruited to our survey site to review a promotional idea. Typically, 75 target-audience consumers are asked to review and evaluate the promotional ad.

A promotion can be tested on the following forms:

  • Rough or finished print advertisement
  • Television storyboard or animatic
  • Finished (or near-finished) TV commercial
  • Radio script
  • Radio commercial (rough or finished)
  • Outdoor billboard

Each promotional ad or commercial is tested monadically. That is, each respondent sees and evaluates only one promotion. After respondents review the promotion twice, they are then asked a series of standard closed-ended questions (that can be compared to normative data), plus a series of open-ended questions, to determine how the promotion could be improved. The report includes answers to standard questions, compared to Decision Analyst's action standards, as well as verbatim responses to open-ended questions.


As a comprehensive monadic promotion pretesting system, it is designed to predict the effectiveness of the finished (or near-finished) promotional ad or commercial compared to normative data.

PromotionTest® provides a comprehensive overview of the promotion’s probable effectiveness, including extensive diagnostics as well as the effects of the promotion on the brand's image. The SellingPower™ score can be compared to normative data (competitive and historical) to aid in predicting the promotion's likely impact. It's especially important to measure the effects of promotions on brand image over time so that promotional activity is building the brand—not destroying it.

Promotions can be tested in the following forms:

  • Rough or finished print advertisement
  • Television storyboard or animatic
  • Finished (or near-finished) TV commercial
  • Radio script
  • Radio commercial (rough or finished)
  • Outdoor billboard

How Does PromotionTest® Work?

A representative sample of target-audience consumers is selected from one of our Internet panels. These consumers match the target population in terms of geography, gender, age, income, ethnicity, and category usage. A total of 300 respondents come to Decision Analyst's encrypted web server to view the promotion and complete a battery of questions and diagnostic ratings. Each promotion is tested monadically (i.e., no respondent evaluates more than one promotion). The results are tabulated, and the promotion's SellingPower™ score is calculated. This score is compared to our action standards for successful new promotions.

SellingPower™ Model

This predictive mathematical model calculates an overall SellingPower™ score for the promotion, based on the following variables:

  • Persuasion (brand purchase intent)
  • Brand reinforcement
  • Possible increase in frequency of usage
  • Attention value
  • Brand registration
  • Stimulation
  • Empathy/Identification
  • Wearout
  • Memorability
  • Pass-along potential

Qualitative Research For Promotion Research

Focus groups and depth interviews are valuable techniques to explore consumer motivations, perceptions, and proclivities related to various promotional concepts in a product category. Good qualitative research can help define the spectrum of promotional possibilities and help identify the key elements of successful promotions. It’s really difficult to develop successful promotional programs without good qualitative research to provide basic understanding to guide that development. Once promotional concepts are developed, qualitative research can be valuable in fine-tuning the concepts. However, focus groups and depth interviews should not be used to predict the success of various promotions. That task is reserved for quantitative methods.

Innovation Services For Promotion Research

Most companies tend to fall into a promotional rut and keep repeating successful promotions until their appeal is destroyed. A better approach is ideation. Let creative consumers help you develop better promotions. Once basic consumer motivations are understood via qualitative research, then creative individuals can help in the promotional development process. Highly creative individuals are the key. They can help create starter ideas for breakthrough promotions. Decision Analyst maintains a panel of more than 2,000 highly creative people (called Imaginators®) who work in small groups, online or offline, to generate hundreds of promotional ideas for a brand. These starter ideas must be developed into the final promotion concepts by marketing staff or agencies and should go through standard promotion-testing procedures

Promotion Testing Services

Decision Analyst is a global marketing research and analytical consulting firm with more than 45 years of experience in testing promotional ideas and concepts. Our American Consumer Opinion® online panel has more than eight million consumers around the globe ready to evaluate your promotional ideas online. Decision Analyst is a world leader in online promotion testing.

If you would like more information on Promotion Testing, please contact Jerry W. Thomas, Chief Executive Officer, by emailing him at, or by calling 1-800-ANALYSIS (262-5974) or 1-817-640-6166.