What Facebook gets right about Lumen's attention data

Last week, the nice people at Facebook wrote a short article in Warc criticising some of the more simplistic uses of Lumen’s attention data.
 This week, we’ve written an article in response saying that we agree with them.
You can read their article and our reply for free on the Warc website.
The gist of Facebook’s argument is twofold:
  • Advertising should be judged on outcomes rather than inputs
  • Different forms of advertising perform different tasks and so should be judged differently
And we would say in response: hear, hear.
But we would also go much further. Because Lumen’s research has shown that attention to advertising isn’t just a function of differences in media. Targeting and creative are equally and sometimes more important.
The media in which an ad appears is important. TV ads generally get much more attention than Facebook ads, which in turn get lots of attention than desktop display ads. You can use Lumen’s attention data to put a relative weighting on each media, and you can use our tracking and buying tools to help you activate this insight. But we should always remember that it is only part of the story.
Targeting is also tremendously important. Most people think that most ads are irrelevant, which is why they have not compunction in ignoring them most of the time. But occasionally you are in market for a particular brand or offer, and then suddenly the advertising is no longer treated as pollution, but is seen as a utility. We have found this to be the case for print advertising and, working in partnership with Ipsos for the IAB, for digital advertising too.
And let’s not forget creative. Funny, beautiful and simple ads get more attention and drive more action than boring, ugly and confusing ads. Years of work pre-testing creative across a variety of media has taught us to put a very high value on the ability of creative.
The power of creative to attract or repel attention – and so amplify or diminish your media investment – was brought to life by an extraordinary study conducted by System 1 for LinkedIn’s B2B Institute this week. System 1 tested hundreds of B2B ads using the same criteria as they use to test B2C ads, and concluded that most of them were below par: 75% of the 1600 ads tested scored 1 star on System 1’s 5-star rating system. Not a single one scored 5. This is something that I think we all had an inkling about, but it’s still fairly shocking to see the results in black and white (and, because it’s System 1, hot pink).
The implication of the report is that if you’re not seeing fantastic results from your B2B campaigns, don’t blame the publishers and the platforms, have a word with whoever is signing off your creative. You can watch a short video about the research here.
What this suggests is that media is only part of the story. Creative and Targeting – and many, many other things – are also vitally important in creative memories and prompting behaviour for the brands we serve. Facebook make a good argument in their article, but it points to an even richer one.