Free Ad Planning and Strategy Tools (for Student Creatives)

A week ago I wrote about insights. After publishing, I realised it was inadequate. It relied largely on ways of thinking rather than research.  While research isn’t everything, it’s still important. I’m rather fond of this quote:

“I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post: for support, rather than for illumination.” – David Ogilvy

What is an Insight?

For me, an insight is an undiscovered truth. It can be about the brand, the category, the consumer or context.

The best insights concern human behaviour. As Shekhar Deshpande, global planning director of JWT London, said in a Insights Masterclass “Insights HIDE.” Habit. Insecurities. Desires. Explained/expressed.

Insights say uncomfortable truths in a funny way. As Pete Barry eloquently explains in The Advertising Concept Book, the best insight is a proposition that would convince a drunk cynic in a pub.

What tools should use?

I’m currently working on some spec work for GoGet – a car share company. I’ll show you the tools I used and what information I gathered. A lot of the stuff below was originally found in this DigitalBuzz presentation, I’ve appropriated it to smaller businesses and student work.

Brand website –

Pros Comprehensive information on your brand
Cons One-sided and commercial

Possible Insights

Product features:

  • Fully maintained and serviced to manufacturer standards
  • Cleaned regularly by professional contractors
  • Covered by 24 hour Roadside Assistance
  • Keyless entry
  • Fuel card on GoGet’s account


Pros Lots of information
Cons Difficult to find things if you don’t know what you’re looking for

Possible Insights

A basic search for GoGet shows they are growing relatively quickly and are progressive – they’ve recently started using electric cars in melbourne.

Social Networks 

Pros See what people are saying about your brand
Cons Opinions are often polarised, highly positive or negative

Possible Insights 

  • People don’t like traffic, and they talk about it in their GoGet car
  • Mention of electric cars
  • Mention of luxury cars becoming part of the GoGet fleet
  • Go Get team uses social media for customer service
  •  Facebook stats tell us primary user is 25-34 Year olds in Sydneythis is useful
  • GoGet customers use their mobiles, a lot. This person is taking a photo from behind the wheel. 

Alexa Analytics

Pros Detailed statistics on website usage
Cons Doesn’t work as well for smaller websites, demographic information is relative

Possible Insights


We can see the brand is becoming more well known, people are searching goget (nospace) rather than go get (space). From number 3 on the left we can see that fuel is a priority for potential customers, or possibly existing customers.


We can see, that our target audience is between 25-34, more-so female, doesn’t have kids, and is earning upwards of $80k.

Google Trends

Pros Gives region specific insight of what and how people are searching for your brand
Cons Data is relative and it is difficult to delve into the data

Possible Insights


This is a rough guess, but there seems to be a search spike in February and March. Maybe people are more likely to use GoGet in the summer?

Other Tools

There are a huge range of tools you can use to find insights for your brand. The tools above are universal, you can use them regardless of the size or location of your brand. The tools below are more useful for large, international or American brands.

Ads of the World Find what kind of ads your competitors are making. 

MixRank Find where your competitors are advertising

Google’s Consumer Barometer Insight into buying behaviour sorted by  consumer category

Think with Google Collection of tools that are so large they would require there own article to explain

Google AdPlanner Supplies demographical information on your brand category

Google AdWords In my opinion Google AdWords is over rated for finding insights outside of search, but it seems mighty popular

Analytical tools like Quantcast and Compete are good, but are only for American consumer research

If you use a great tool that I haven’t included, please mention it in the comments!


From this research I managed to get some useful insights into my Target Audience. They live in Sydney, are between the age of 25-34, more often female, more often without kids, and  earn upwards of $80k. Fuel is a priority. They are active on social media and often use their mobiles. There is a search spike in Summer. Finally, GoGet pays for Fuel and has cards which give keyless entry, two product features that could be fun to play with.

These insights are not earth shattering, but hopefully these tools will give you a platform from which you can do some good creative work. If your interested, this is what I came up with.