Eldaa Daily is senior director, research, at Dynata. She can be reached at eldaa.daily@dynata.com. Charles Young is founder of Ameritest. He can be reached at chuck@ameritest.net.

One way brands can project a premium image is by using high-quality production values in their advertising. That’s why network-quality TV commercials don’t look like homemade YouTube videos or PowerPoint sales presentations.

One common question that comes up in agency discussions about how to do early ad testing research is, “How do we measure the contribution that good production values make to overall ad effectiveness?”

“Production value” is a loosely defined term that could mean everything from the total cost of a video production to the net contributions that different artists make to the overall quality of the final execution: the storytelling, the acting, camera work, set design, music and sound, special effects, film editing and so on.

In this article we’d like to explore the different contributions that well-crafted moviemaking and skillful storytelling make to overall creative quality or ad effectiveness. In the case of the former, high-quality cinematography is key to attracting audience attention, while good storytelling is key to motivating consumer behavior.

Most of the well-established pretesting systems have evolved over the past 30 years to focus on measuring the key performance indicators (KPIs) of attention, branding and motivation or persuasion. These are widely accepted report-card measures of ad effectiveness. And while different research systems measure these performance dimensions in different ways, the best systems have good histories of predicting various in-market tracking or brand lift metrics, such as brand awareness and product price/value perceptions. The ultimate goal being to predict sales performance and advertising ROI.

An interesting trend seen across many pretesting sys...