Are Your Ads Working? Can You Prove It?

Originally published June 3, 2005

Rosser Reeves

The late Rosser Reeves, former CEO Ted Bates Advertising.

In 1961 Rosser Reeves, the Creative Director of Ted Bates Advertising, Inc., wrote a book titled Reality In Advertising. Although it’s now out of print, you may be able to find a copy at a used bookstore or a library.

Reeves was the man who created “I Like Ike,” “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand,” and the famous Anacin ad with the tiny bubbles carrying relief to boxes in a silhouette head.

Reeves also had a simple method of determining whether an ad was “working.”

Reeves Ad Penetration Test

His staff phoned 1,000 people across the country at random and asked two questions:

Are you familiar with our advertising?

Do you use our product?

He put the tallies into a grid much like this one.

Please appreciate the elegant simplicity of this test.

Some People Will Remember Your Ads

The left side is made up of people who are familiar with your ads.

As a percentage of the total, these people represent your MARKET PENETRATION. The higher your Market Penetration, the better your advertising is working. The lower your score, the greater potential for increased sales with a good advertising campaign.

The top side is made up of people who buy what you have to sell.

If ten percent of the unpenetrated group buys your product, and twenty percent of the penetrated group buys, you may subtract the first group from the second to get what Rosser Reeves called the “Usage Pull” of your advertising. Today it’s better known as the CONVERSION FACTOR.

Sometimes, No Exposure is Better

Thankfully, we don’t see it often, but it is possible to have a negative Conversion Factor. This is evidence that your advertising is actually harming sales. Should you find yourself in this situation, STOP YOUR ADVERTISING IMMEDIATELY and get help.

Reeves techniques are nearly half a century old, but they still work exceptionally well. If you can find a copy, Reality In Advertising deserves a place in your marketing library.  Consider it a guidebook to go fishing for customers.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

Have questions about whether your advertising is drawing customers?  Drop Chuck a note at ChuckMcKay@ChuckMcKayOnLine.com.  Or call him at 304-208-7654.

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