In 1990, the ARF presented the findings on its landmark Copy Research Validity Project. The landmark study took eight years to develop, facing numerous design concerns and significant funding problems. It was the first industry study to empirically show that copy quality alone drives sales results. It remains the only study to independently test the major copy testing protocols and relate their results to in-market sales performance. The main results indicated that Likeability and Recall were the top predictors of in-market sales performance, with both measures being stronger than any measure of persuasion. Additionally controversial was its finding that post-only measures of persuasion were stronger than pre-post measures of persuasion.
Another major advancement during this time sprung from advances in the science of neuro-physiology, with new technologies for measuring and thus understanding how the brain functions. Perhaps chief among this new learning has been the deepening recognition of how powerful the consumer’s emotional response towards the brand is as a motivator of his or her behavior. Accordingly, copy testing techniques have been augmented to measure implicit affective responses.
In addition, there has been a renewed interest in using physiological measures like Electroencephalogram (EEG), Facial Electromyography (Facial EMG), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), etc., to link implicit physiological responses to specific emotional events, constructs, and devices in an advertisement.
Recently, a new metric, engagement, has also received extensive research attention. The focus is increasingly on whether and to what extent advertising is successful in engaging or involving the audience with the brand, media, and/or advertising. As a result, measures of Love and Likelihood to Recommend have become part of many copy testing protocols.
Further, rapid advances in web technologies have resulted in opportunities to drive down research costs and speed up delivery. Although issues about sample quality and exposure context persist, web-based copy testing is one of the most significant technological developments in copy testing.