1. Definition
Pretests identify and measure possible effects and influencing factors in advance of planned activities (campaigns, surveys etc.). Procedures, content, properties, questions etc. are checked in terms of their comprehensibility and manageability in small (test) samples.

2. Applications
Pretests are primarily used prior to empirical research, product launches and advertising measures as a kind of trial run. The evaluations are used to optimize the actual measure. Examples in the PR field include investigation of the likely acceptance and impact of planned communication measures among relevant stakeholders (e.g. in terms of attention value, credibility, identification, use, mobilization to act, overall impression). Pretests hence help to forecast likely changes and in attitude and behavior in response to the respective communication measures.

3. Conduct
Individual methods (e.g. surveys) or combinations of methods (e.g. survey, experimental study design, focus groups) can be used. A qualitative approach appears indicated. Participants are confronted with the respective measures and subsequently asked about their attitudes, emotions and potential behavior. In the case of empirical surveys, response behavior and comprehensibility will be queries. Other variants include recall and recognition tests, also known as copy tests – the participant is presented with a usable dummy. Associations and comprehensibility tests complete this approach. Supplementary tools to establish sub-effects may include tachistoscopy, eye tracking, and skin resistance measurements.

4. Indicators

  • Acceptance rate
  • Number of items for optimization
  • Comprehensibility rating
  • Message recall
  • Attention value

5. Service providers in Germany
A&B.Framework, Berlin
com.X, Bochum
forsa, Berlin
FORSA BrandControl, Frankfurt/Main
GfK, Nürnberg
infas, Bonn
Ipsos, Hamburg/Mölln/Nürnberg
KINAU Mediaforschung, Hamburg
rheingold, Köln
Skopos, Hürth
TNS Infratest, München
YouGovPsychonomics, Köln / Wien

6. Links

7. Further reading
Bloom, Derek / Jay, Andrea / Twyman, Tony (1977): The Validity of Advertising Pretests. In: Journal of Advertising Research 17, pp. 7-16.

8. Case studies

Please send us short texts from your projects on this topic in the same structure as the existing case studies, and more information (pdf or links) on the methods employed in as much detail as possible.

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