Ad Lab

Ad Research Milestones


C3R presents a seminal study in partnership with MTV at the Ad Research Foundation’s Rethink conference. We showed that only 1 in 3 online ads receive an eye gaze, and of those, the gaze is held for an average of 1.2 seconds. If the consumer’s interest is not earned in a split second, they divert their gaze in an automatic reaction.


Through extensive R&D, C3R develops the AEP model, which measures Digital Ad Effectiveness, and an Advertising Scorecard.


C3R completes another seminal study for the Interactive Advertising Bureau on a new genre of digital advertising called the Rising Star Ad Units.

What We Do at the Ad Lab

Through mathematical modeling, user surveys, eye-tracking systems and more, we offer everything from  basic ideation to comprehensive reports with usable quantitative and qualitative data — for the power to make your ads say more, mean more, and do more.

Ad Concept Generation

Consumer creative groups are used to generate Ad Concepts that resonate.

Ad Concept Testing

Survey based methods to test shortlisted ad concepts and pick the winner.

Display and Video Ad Testing

Eye Tracking and Frame by Frame analysis is conducted for display and video ads.

Ad Effectiveness Modeling

Our model helps optimize creative execution for optimal marketplace performance.

Ad Tracking Study

Longitudinal tracking studies for Ad Awareness, Attitudes, and Usage.

Ad Redesign

Ad Effectiveness model tells us where the test ad is failing. Eye tracker sessions are then conducted for generating solutions for redesign.

Store Merchandising / Fact Tags Research

Retail fact tags are tested to understand how consumers process fact tag information to design fact tags.

Online Asset Testing

Online Assets such as Decision Aids and Online Tools are optimized based on Eye Tracking studies.

The AEP Model for digital advertising

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 the 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 attitude, and brand action.

These models have high R-squares, predicting user behavior to greater than 75% certainty, which suggest their effectiveness in measuring the impact on overall brand equity. They can be used to pinpoint where an ad is breaking down in a chain of effects and how it can be optimized for better performance.

A two phase process is used for digital ad testing and optimization. In the first phase, Ad Testing is done using the AEP model. The test reveals where the Test Ad is breaking down. The Test Ad is then taken to the Eye Tracker lab for detailed analysis and to understand how the problem areas can be improved. The Test Ad may undergo several iterations in the Lab with different versions of the Ad until the research shows the Ad is ready for launch. The process can result in dramatic improvements in an Ad’s actual market performance.


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.

At A Glance

At A Glance

The ads are show "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.

Full Exposure

Full Exposure

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

Brand Equity

Brand Equity

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

Phase 2: Creative Optimization

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.

Natural Browsing

Natural Browsing

Respondents freely browse our custom ads embedded throughout. This task is designed to simulate a natural browsing experience that we observe using Eye Trackers.

Ad Performance Survey

Ad Performance Survey

Respondents take a brief questionnaire that measures Attention, Engagement, Persuasion and Brand Equity scores of the ads viewed during the natural browsing task. The format is similar to the quantitative phase as it includes the At a Glance, Full Exposure, and Brand Equity activities.

In-Depth Interview

In-Depth Interview

Research executives replay the recorded eye tracking activity with the respondents to explain their thoughts and actions while browsing. The debrief session focuses on undertaking the strengths and weaknesses the test ads.


The AQ Score: Measuring an Ad’s ADVERTISING QUOTIENT

The AQ score is directly correlated to a Digital Ad’s ability to build brand preference and equity. Higher AQ scores results 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.

Case  Studies

Three different versions of an Ad campaign were tested to find out which Ad was performing the best. The winning Ad was launched in multiple geographies around the world.

Eye Tracker lab was used to identify areas where the Ad could be improved. Rapid prototypes of improved Ads were created for lab testing. The cycle of testing and rapid prototyping was conducted three times to produce the final version of the Ad.

Testing in the Lab showed an Ad was not likely to get any click-through. The campaign objective was to drive traffic to a new website. The client decided to launch the Ad, despite the negative lab results. The multimillion dollar campaign produced less than 500 click throughs, defeating the campaign objectives.

Five brand ads from past year’s campaign were tested in the Lab to find out the relative performance of the Ads on the AQ and develop guidelines for future advertising.

An experimental study was designed to see how we can optimize an Ad’s ability to drive traffic to a new website being created by a national insurance company.