Meta’s ‘set it and forget it’ AI ad tools are misfiring and blowing through cash

Meta's AI ad tool Advantage Plus is overspending and underperforming, causing advertiser discontent.

: Advertisers using Meta's automated ad platform, Advantage Plus, have experienced significant overspending and poor performance, with costs per impression (CPM) skyrocketing and sales plummeting. The issues started around Valentine's Day, with repeated incidents where daily budgets were consumed rapidly without delivering expected results, leading to frustration and a lack of transparency from Meta. Despite promises of efficient, AI-driven advertising, businesses are facing increased ad costs and are considering reverting to manual ad purchases.

Starting around Valentine's Day, advertisers using Meta's Advantage Plus shopping campaigns faced severe issues with the automated system, with daily ad budgets being rapidly depleted and cost per impressions (CPMs) reaching unsustainable levels, approximately 10 times higher than usual. Small businesses and marketers reported significant financial losses as their advertisements failed to generate revenue, despite Meta's promises of a 'set it and forget it' AI solution that would offer efficient online advertising in the absence of granular data following Apple's privacy updates. The situation led to a widespread outcry for accountability and transparency from Meta, with many businesses reconsidering their reliance on the platform for digital ads.

As complaints accumulated, Meta's response was deemed inadequate by the affected parties. The company acknowledged a platform bug on February 14th but provided no detailed explanation for the ongoing problems with Advantage Plus. Marketers struggled to get support as Meta had reduced its customer service workforce, further complicating the situation. The dissatisfaction prompted some advertisers to stop using Advantage Plus altogether, shifting back to manual ad campaigns despite the extra effort required, highlighting a critical setback for Meta's vision of AI-driven advertising efficiency.

The broader impact of these issues extends beyond just Meta’s platform, reflecting on the digital advertising industry's growing pains with automation and AI. The significant increase in ad costs, driven by inefficiencies and the lack of detailed targeting options post-Apple’s privacy changes, challenges the sustainability of automated ad systems. As Meta works to address technical problems and improve its automated offerings, the situation underscores the need for a balance between automation and human oversight in advertising strategies, casting doubt on the viability of fully automated 'set it and forget it' ad platforms.