What Are Ad Recall Surveys? [+Example Questions]

ad recall survey

Spend. Spend. Spend. The world of advertising is all about spending money to reach targeted geographies, targeted users, and generate revenue.

Although the days of digital marketing have made advertising easier to track and measure, an enormous gap still exists in the industry between market research and advertising.

This is where ad recall surveys enter the fold. Keep reading to learn more about ad recall surveys, or skip ahead to a section you are most interested in.

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Interested in conducting an ad recall survey with a market research company? Drive Research can help. Contact our team by emailing [email protected] or completing a form online.

What are ad recall surveys?

An ad recall survey is the process of following up with an audience after an advertisement is run to understand what the respondents recall about the advertisement if anything.

It is a type of market research that measures likes, dislikes, awareness, perception, likelihood to purchase, and other key performance indicators that are not accessible on traditional digital analysis platforms.

For instance, when running a paid Facebook ad, brands can learn analytics such as clicks, impressions, frequency, etc. Unfortunately, they're useless in regards to learning how well the advertisement actually worked. 

Facebook defines an impression as "the number of times an ad was served, based on data received from an ad platform" (Source: Facebook). However, advertisers are left wondering...

  • Did the ad resonate with Facebook users?
  • Do Facebook users remember seeing my ad?
  • Did Facebook users stop to read my ad or did they keep scrolling to the next post?
  • Why did the Facebook user not click on my ad?

Ad recall surveys are better equipped to answer these types of questions.

What is the purpose of an ad recall survey?

Digital analytics does an excellent job of telling the what and who of a marketing story.

  • Who clicked our ad?
  • How much engagement did our ad have?
  • What did the impressions look like?
  • What was our cost per click?

All of these questions can be answered through simple social media analytics or Google Analytics data.

Where advertising data falls short is the "why?"

Market research such as ad recall surveys helps fill the gap on some of those unattainable ancillary metrics that are impossible to find on digital marketing platforms.

In other words, ad recall market research adds depth, value, and feedback on your advertising campaigns.

For your exposed audience, it helps you understand drivers to positive sentiment and triggers which may push a customer to purchase.

It identifies pieces of the advertisement which were most memorable which can be echoed or amplified in the next round of the campaign to increase awareness, engagement, and ROI of the ads.

Quote text: Market research such ad recall surveys helps fills the gap on some of those unattainable ancillary metrics that are impossible to find on digital marketing platforms.

How can brands conduct ad recall surveys?

Our market research company Drive Research partners with brands from across the country to conduct ad recall surveys.

After signing a proposal, our team hosts a kickoff meeting to discuss the project’s objectives, goals, specifications, and more.

With this information, we strategize our streamlined process for the ad recall market research project. In this section, I’ll share an overview of each step. 

Step 1. Expose respondents to an advertisement

The market research first involves exposing the audience to an advertisement. Many years ago, ad recall was mainly centered around television commercials.

However, with the growth of digital and online marketing, ad recall surveys have stretched far beyond traditional advertising channels.

Step 2. Send a follow-up survey

After the respondent is exposed to the ad, a follow-up survey or interview is conducted with the same targeted audience to help the market research company understand what, if anything, the respondent recalled about the advertisement.

If they remember anything in particular, the survey or interviewer can dive deeper into specifics such as brand tie-ins, sentiment, feelings, emotions, likes, and dislikes.

Step 3. Analyze the results

After fieldwork for the ad recall survey is complete, a market research firm will analyze the feedback. Given your allotted budget, there are a variety of reporting options available.

For instance, our market research company offers our clients an a la carte approach to reporting. The two most common options are a topline and a comprehensive report.

The sections of a report can include an executive summary, question-by-question analysis, an infographic, recommendations, and more.

This deliverable helps brands understand how to strategize their advertising efforts based on data-driven insights.

maximize the roi of marketing and advertising efforts

How is ad recall research used?

Most commonly, there are three options brands utilize for ad recall research. This includes:

  1. Aided awareness approach
  2. Unaided awareness approach
  3. Blinded approach

We have a great blog post on the difference between aided and unaided awareness if you are unfamiliar with either.

Aided awareness approach

Some brands choose to go the aided route where the ad recall begins with "Do you remember seeing an advertisement for Tide in the past 24 hours on social media?"

If the respondent says yes, a path of questions is developed to help the market research team understand how the exposed recall audience liked the ad and their feelings toward it.

Unaided awareness approach

Another option is to move in the unaided route which would look something like "Do you remember seeing an advertisement for laundry detergent in the past 24 hours?"

Again, if the respondent says yes, they will next answer a series of follow-up questions.

Blinded approach

Last, a stricter approach is blindly testing respondents.

A blinded approach asks respondents, "What advertisements do you recall seeing on your social media feed in the past 24 hours?"

What approach to ad recall market research is best?

There are pros and cons to each approach. Sometimes it helps to start with an unaided approach before progressing to aided.

Depending on the platform, the recall rate could be low which puts the market research team at a disadvantage because sample sizes will be small on follow-up questions.

Keep this in mind as you are designing your ad recall survey. Obviously recall on a Superbowl commercial will be higher than a banner ad you run on a local news site in July.

Recommended Reading: 3 ways market research helps sell advertising.

Example ad recall survey questions

When writing and designing survey questions, our advertising and marketing research company heavily considers the sponsor of the study, their audience, what they are promoting, and more.

Each survey is custom-written to ensure the results are of the highest quality possible.

Generally speaking, ad recall surveys might include the below questions.

  • Which of the following brands are you aware of?
  • Do you remember seeing any advertising for [INSERT BRAND NAME] in the past 3 months?
  • Where did you see or hear the advertising for [INSERT BRAND NAME]? ie. Facebook, TV, radio, etc.
  • [If recalls advertising] What messages or topics do you remember from the advertisement(s)? Please be specific.
  • [If recalls advertising] Did the advertisement mention [INSERT SUBJECT OF AD]?
  • [If recalls advertising] What did you like most about the ad? What did you like about the least about the ad?

Other important questions to include are related to demographics. For example, "Which of the following age groups best describes you?" or "In which of the following states do you primarily reside?"

Understanding what customer personas most resonate with your ads can help with better targeting on different advertising platforms. 

Conduct an Ad Recall Survey with Drive Research

Drive Research is a national market research company, helping brands conduct ad recall and campaign evaluation surveys. Our experts have experience working with all industries to deliver high-quality insights that drive marketing strategies.

To learn more about our services, or receive a quote for ad recall market research, contact Drive Research today!

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at [email protected]
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily carroll about the author

Emily Carroll

A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Coordinator. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Learn more about Emily, here.

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