Ads on Facebook, the social network, typically skew towards “left-brain” creative techniques that are associated with lower long-term effectiveness, according to a study by research firm System1.

Orlando Wood, System1’s chief innovation officer, discussed this subject at EffWorks – an online event held by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), the trade body.

And he cited the results of a study of 100 video ads from “large corporate campaigns” run on Facebook that met the social network’s minimum required best practices when it came to factors like reach, duration and frequency.

“In a News Feed, you don’t have long to make an impression,” Wood noted. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Orlando Wood unlocks the secrets of effectiveness for online video advertising.)

He further reported that the average Facebook ad contains 5.3 “left-brain” features, which include quick cuts, the abstraction of products and body parts, voiceovers, monologues, rhythmic soundtracks, and overlaid text.

By contrast, the average ad contained only 1.3 right-brain features – such as a clear sense of place, characters with agency, dialogue, distinctive assets, melodic music and a single scene that unfolds with progression.

That is problematic because a body of research conducted by Wood into both video and television advertising has found that ads skewed towards the right brain typically deliver the strongest long-term growth.

And, on Facebook, “even the most right-brained ads didn't have particularly high numbers of right-brained features, so it’s difficult to tease out meaningful differences”.

Despite this, there was a “marginal advantage” for ads that were comparatively right-brained in character when it comes to retaining attention on the social network.

The messages that people continued watching after the initial three seconds, Wood said, “look more and more like right-brained ads, and less and less like left-brained ads”.

Facebook ads that are even “mildly” tilted in the direction of the right brain are also more likely to perform better on metrics that point to “broader, and longer, effects” such as emotional engagement and brand recall, he added.

Sourced from WARC