How It's Done: Copy Testing

January 1, 2005

Copy tests provide marketers with a quantitative evaluation of advertising effectiveness. They are undertaken in order to insure that the spots that go on air are likely to be well received by relevant consumers.

While there are an extensive variety of copy test designs, most copy tests consist of:

  • Open-Ended Items that gather unaided verbatim reactions from respondents
  • Scalar Items that examine respondents' evaluations of the tested creative on a large number of relevant dimensions

Sample size tends to be 100 for a copy test of each execution. If it is necessary to carefully examine the evaluations of several population segments, the sample size can be greater.

Copy tests measure the degree to which:

  • Respondents recall the tested spot.
  • Respondents correctly brand the execution.
  • The tested creative promotes purchase interest on the part of respondents.
  • The spot enhances perceptions of the advertised brand.
  • Respondents like the execution and find it to be of relevance to them.


  • A copy test should be undertaken only if there is need to support a decision to air creative.
  • Because a copy test involves a decision, every effort should be made to insure that the results of a copy test are generalizable.
  • A copy test must be designed to address agreed upon strategic and creative criteria for success and failure of the tested execution.
  • The results of a copy test must be evaluated in terms of the creative strategy underlying the tested execution.
  • Copy tests should provide enough information so that an execution which does not meet standards can be improved.
  • Copy tests should be scheduled so that they leave enough time to make any needed adjustments.

"How It's Done: A Research and Planning Handbook for Marketing Communications Professionals." Seth Ginsburg. ANA: New York, 2005.