Research is formalized curiosity. Zora Neale Hurston

So how does an MSME conduct Advertising Research? Let’s run through a practical example.

Our client within the financial industry was launching a new transfer service on their mobile money platform and wanted to evaluate their product launch advertising materials (2 advertisement campaigns) in print out of home/billboards and online video format. And so they reached out to us! Below are the 7 steps we took to help them accomplish their business objective.

Step 1: Identify your Business and Research Objectives.

  • The client’s business objective was to evaluate their advertising campaigns so as to guide their marketing efforts.
  • Our research objective was to evaluate the advertising campaigns on its overall comprehension, uniqueness, key message and perception.

Step 2: Create your Research Questions.

Our Research Questions were as follows

  • Is the advertising understandable?
  • Did the advertising communicate something different?
  • Is the advertising relevant?
  • Does the advertising increase interest in the product?
  • What is the perceived key message of the advertising?
  • Is it aligned with that of the company?
  • Does the advertising influence opinions of the brand?

Step 3: Identify your Target Audience.

  • We wanted to speak to users of the client’s brand as well as to non-users to account for partiality among users due to brand affinity.
  • The client’s target markets are youths and students who are between the ages of 18-25 years old. As well as young professionals between the ages of 23-38 years old. And so these are the people we wanted to speak to.

Step 4: Choose a data collection Methodology.

  • We conducted Focus Group discussions because they provide rich insights in a time-efficient manner. And they allow for further probing and clarification on specific areas of interest.
  • As the advertisements were going to be shown in 2 formats (print for out of home/billboards and online video), we needed to be able to probe and ensure all elements were understood, and so we choose Focus Group discussions.

Step 5: After selecting your Methodology. Execute your chosen Methodology

  • In our moderator’s guide, we started by introducing participants to the project (do not give a lot of details so as not to bias their responses).
  • We provided rules of engagement which entail respecting people’s opinions and confidentiality.
  • We started with an ice breaker for example, ‘what technology do you think has had the greatest impact on society’.
  • Next, we asked questions about their financial inclusivity and then asked specifically about our client’s brand.
  • Finally, we showed them the advertisement (one format and campaign at a time) and asked them the following questions before showing the next format and campaign

o    Do you like the advertisement?

o    Is the advertising different from what you would expect?

o    Do you understand it?

o    Is it relevant to you?

o    What is the key message you got from the advertisement?

o    How does the advertisement make you feel about the brand?

o    What does the advertisement make you want to do?

Step 6: Analyze the Data.

  • The focus group discussions must be audio and video recorded.
  • After each session, we wrote out the responses of each participant for each question – this process is called transcription.
  • Afterwards we created themes for each question (this process is called content analysis) and then coded the responses under each theme.
  • Finally, we used a data analysis function called frequencies on each theme to see which themes were more prevalent and see the patterns in your data.

Step 7: Create a Report.

  • In our report, we gave a background to the project and included our objectives.
  • We explained how and when we collected the data.
  • We provided key insights – something impactful that was observed or mentioned during the focus group.

o   For example; ‘Respondents kept on insisting that the advertising video and posters were too elitist and would not be relevant for the people who need and use the brand.’

  • And then we explained in detail each question that was asked, the frequencies and responses as well as our own interpretation of the pattern we were observing.

o   For example ‘Regardless of socio-economic class, those 23-29 years did not like the video ad. Among all who did not like the ad, they believed it was not captivating enough (especially the first few scenes) and was not able to keep their attention – this could be because there was no infusion of humour which is important to get people’s attention and helps them remember the advertisement.’

  • With our research findings, the client was able to fine-tune the advertisements before airing them thereby increasing the efficiency of the advertisements.

Have further questions or advertising research needs, contact us!


1.      Brainy Quotes (n.d.). Research Quotes. Brainy Quote. Retrieved on February 3rd, 2020 from…