What is Dial Testing Research?

Do you ever wish you had a crystal ball? One that could predict how your audience will react to your idea before it reaches them?

Unfortunately, once your advertisement has aired, your movie trailer has hit the big screen, or your product has reached the market, there’s no controlling your audience’s reaction. So the question becomes:

What can I do to predict how my audience will react before my idea reaches them?

Dial testing research helps provide some of the key insights you seek. By determining how customers react before your idea hits the market, you can make changes to strike the perfect chord.

Let’s take a closer look at what dial testing research is, how it works, and some key benefits.

So, what is dial testing?

dial testing graph 300x257Dial testing captures immediate reactions by having a subset of your target audience share in-the-moment perceptions using a sliding scale.

Using online dial testing, studios and networks can understand exactly which moments viewers like and don’t like watching on their shows, branding teams can find out if their television ads resonate with key audiences, and more.

Dial testing in practice

Dial testing is easiest to understand by example. Let’s pretend you’re working for a company that makes dog food. You want to know how viewers will react to a commercial featuring adorable puppies excited to eat your dog food. You decide to gather insights by testing your ad on a subset of your target audience.

During a research session, you ask participants to react to certain scenes using an online dial to share their emotions. You may ask participants to rate how interested they are throughout the ad on a scale of 1-10 or how likely they are at any given moment in the commercial to want to buy your dog food.

Besides providing an indication of how likely consumers are to buy your product or watch your movie, dial testing research can offer several more key benefits to researchers and organizations.

Key benefits

For teams seeking to gain a better understanding of how their audiences will react to their offering, dial testing:

  • Allows researchers to gather responses and reactions from individual participants. One downside to traditional focus groups is the tendency for one opinion to overshadow and sway the others in the group. Dial testing eradicates the possibility of groupthink by ensuring that each participant privately records their momentary reactions before the group discusses it together.
  • Removes the challenges associated with relying on human memory. Can you remember what you ate for breakfast one month ago? Probably not. That’s because human recall is inherently flawed. Instead of relying on memory to gather reactions, dial testing gathers perceptions on-the-spot for a more accurate reading.
  • Helps to identify the moments or elements of greatest significance. One of the most valuable attributes of this type of research is its ability to reveal moments or elements of significance you may have otherwise overlooked. For example, you may think the most important part of your dog food commercial is when the puppy wags its tail when its food is set in front of it. Instead, users may react more strongly to the moment the puppy enters the frame.
  • Provides instant insights. Instead of waiting for a group discussion to reveal to you what points of interest participants identify while viewing your commercial, you get an immediate indication of what interests them the most and least as they watch.
  • Forges a pathway to discovering greater qualitative insights. Using the insights gathered from dial testing, researchers can have a more thoughtful discussion with participants after. This can help them to dig deeper into the “why” of key reactions.

Reaching the “how” and the “why”

Like many forms of research, dial testing research is best used with other quantitative and qualitative research methods to derive even more insights. Gathering dial testing data helps to uncover how participants feel about your idea. Forming discussions around this qualitative data will help your team to drive at why they feel the way they do. By combining dial testing with other tools and techniques, you can gather a more holistic understanding of why participants react in certain ways.


Looking to discover how your audience will react before your idea reaches the market? Request a demo of the Invoke system for greater audience insights today.

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