Because a multimillion-dollar ad campaign rides on a split second!

WHAT WE DO AT the media lab

Ad Concept Generation

Ad Concept Testing

Creative Testing and Ad Optimization

Ad Effectiveness Modeling

Ad Tracking Study

video testing

Merchandising/Fact Tags Research

Online Asset Testing


The digital advertising processing model, developed by C3Research, is based on the understanding that most digital ads are likely to be processed actively, in what is known as Central route to Processing.

Ads are measured in the lab on three dimensions - Attention, Engagement, Persuasion - and seventeen variables. Mathematical models help determine what is driving brand equity, ad attribute, and brand action.

Whiteboard with notes superimposed by graphic of the AEP model of digital advertising at c3research

Digital Advertising is different from TV

Multiple Elements competing for attention

On Digital Media, the eye tries to avoid looking at elements that do not meet user’s objectives

Peripheral vision and preconscious processing

If peripheral vision picks up Ad cues that appear to be relevant, the eye swings to the Ad

Split Second Ad Processing

This process happens in a split second, at a preconscious level

How is Ad Testing conducted?


In the quantitative phase, mock websites are developed for respondents to browse, and digital ads are embedded in the websites. Once respondents finish browsing, they continue to a detailed questionnaire that measures the ad’s Attention, Engagement, Persuasion, and Brand Equity scores.

The ads are shown "At A Glance" in a 3-second recording in the context of the website. The activity is followed by a series of questions to determine the ad's effectiveness in grabbing the consumer's attention during a brief exposure.

face of a clock

Following the "At A Glance" exposure, respondents are exposed to a full-length recording of the ad. Respondents are then asked a round of questions to measure the engagement of the ad's creative elements and the persuasiveness of the ad's messaging​

person on laptop, no face showing

Finally, a series of post-exposure brand equity measures capture the shifts in brand attitudes and intentions to try the brand after seeing the ad.​

Hand with pen filling out paper form on clipboard


Using the findings from the quantitative phase, a follow-up qualitative phase is conducted to explore the weak areas of an ad. This phase is conducted with eye trackers to see how the ads can be improved to raise their overall effectiveness. The structure of the qualitative sessions includes free browsing, followed by a survey, and lastly, a debrief stage. Rapid prototypes of the ad with the suggested improvements can be created to test further in the eye tracker lab.

Eye Tracking Session

Post Test Survey

Replay Session & Interview


The AQ score is directly correlated to a Digital Ad’s ability to build brand preference and equity. Higher AQ scores result in better marketplace performance. Much like IQ (Intelligence Quotient), an ad’s AQ is based on a 200-point index score. The overall AQ score tells us how the ad is performing against other ads and how it will most likely perform outside the lab. A deep dive into each of the three components of the AQ (Attention, Ad Engagement, Message Persuasion) tells us where the test ad is weak compared to other ads. An ad’s AQ score can be raised significantly using our research methodology. Once the weak areas of the Ad are accurately determined from the AQ analysis, a qualitative follow-up study in the Eye Tracker lab is conducted to see how the ad can be improved to raise the AQ score.

Advertising quotient description at c3research
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