The "right message to the right person at the right time" is the ideal that all marketers strive to achieve every day, with every campaign, media buy, email, and display ad.

Achieving that ideal becomes more difficult as consumers' digital media consumption patterns shift and new device and technologies emerge and fragment the market.

Advertisers have so many moving parts to adjust that by the time advertisers get one lever adjusted perfectly, another lever is off. You manage to hone in on a highly qualified target audience—but you can't get the message right. Or you get the message right—but you can't seem to find the right time to put it in front of your targets, so they never see it.

Have you ever seen an ad that made you cringe at how irrelevant it was or how inappropriate the timing was? That's the result of the inherent difficulty of getting all the levers just right. Even if just one is off, the entire ad comes off as irrelevant and intrusive.

Why Testing Matters

So, how do you know whether you have all the levers correct before you push the launch button on a campaign that costs hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars?

Multivariate testing used to be enough to address many of the above-mentioned concerns, particularly as they related to media sources, but variable and emergent ad formats and rich media have made that process far more complex. And multivariate testing doesn't tell the whole story.

Moreover, creative itself needs to be tested. It's that all-important "message" lever.

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image of Jeff Hirsch

Jeff Hirsch is president of CPXI, a digital media holding company.

LinkedIn: Jeff Hirsch