The 1970s were a particularly eventful time for TV commercials as the rise of independent cable channels facilitated on-air pretesting by driving down cost of exposure. Also, the technique of testing rough commercials on-air was introduced, making pre-testing economically viable.
Split cable and addressable converter boxes helped marketers determine if one campaign was able to sell more products than another by using actual behavior (sales) as the criterion measure; matched households could be shown different ads and then tracked for purchase behavior. Despite its promise, this approach proved to be too expensive and slow for most copy testing needs and was not considered appropriate for non-packaged good advertising.
This period also saw the increased use of mall intercept – forced exposure testing with increased use of diagnostic questions and target groups – a style of research that has received increased interest today with the advent of online panels.
Millward Brown introduced Tracked Recall in the UK in 1972. This method sought to establish traces of the advertisement by using what is known as the Recall-Cueing methodology, which seeks to track “brand-linked presence of the advertisement” in memory.
Also noteworthy during this period was the development of scales to quantify consumer reactions to TV commercials. The theoretical foundation of these measurement (rating) scales can be traced to Wells, who presented empirical evidence gathered from experiments using a 12 item Emotional Quotient (EQ) Scale (1964). His findings indicated that ads that are both well-liked and meaningful to the respondents also tend to be better recalled and more effective. Subsequently, Wells, Leavitt, and McConville (1971) built on these findings and constructed six Reaction Profile Scales dealing with what they believed to be critical dimensions in viewers’ reaction to commercials, viz., humor, vigor, sensuousness, uniqueness, personal relevance, and irritation. Schlinger (1979) further operationalized the concept and developed a rating instrument called the Viewer Response Profile (VRP) to focus on “how people feel after seeing a commercial rather than what they know.” The quantification of affective responses to commercials was thus an important step forward in copy testing methodology.