Understanding Meta’s Advantage+ Creative Enhancements – Episode 24: 7-Figures & Beyond Podcast

Episode Summary

In this episode of the 7 Figures and Beyond podcast, hosts Greg Shuey and Laurel Teuscher discuss the challenges and implications of Meta’s new generative AI tool, Advantage Plus Creative Enhancements. Laurel, having recently taken on a more active role with clients, shares her insights on how the tool automatically optimizes ad creatives, which, while intended to enhance ad performance, can sometimes detract from brand credibility and control. The conversation covers both the potential benefits and pitfalls of relying heavily on AI for ad customization, emphasizing the importance of monitoring these tools to ensure they align with brand goals and maintain a positive customer experience.

Video Replay

Key Takeaways

  1. Automated Creative Adjustments: The AI tool modifies ad images and videos to supposedly optimize audience interaction, but these changes can sometimes be too aggressive or inappropriate, affecting brand perception negatively.
  2. Impact on Brand Control: The use of AI in advertising often reduces the brand’s control over its presentation and messaging, which can lead to ads that do not align with the brand’s established identity or strategy.
  3. Benefits Versus Risks: While AI can offer efficiency and novel approaches to ad customization, it also presents risks by potentially degrading the quality of customer interactions with the brand if not carefully managed.
  4. Importance of Oversight: Continuous oversight and intervention are necessary to ensure that AI-generated ads remain true to the brand’s values and effectively communicate its message.
  5. Future of AI in Advertising: Despite current challenges, there is optimism that AI tools will improve as they learn from feedback and data, suggesting a significant role for AI in future advertising strategies.

Episode Links

Greg Shuey LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/greg-shuey/

Laurel Tesucher LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laureltoosure/

Meta’s Newest Generative AI Enhancements: https://www.facebook.com/business/news/Introducing-Enhanced-Gen-AI-Features-and-Other-Tools-to-Help-Build-Your-Business

Episode Transcript

Greg: 0:28
Hey everyone, welcome to episode 24 of the Seven Figures and Beyond podcast. Hope everyone is having a magnificent day. Yep, I used a big word today magnificent. How about that Laurel’s back? Hi Laurel.

Laurel: 0:46

Greg: 0:47
She took a 30-day hiatus, probably not by choice. I just took her off the calendar mostly because she has been insanely busy lately. She’s been taking a more active role in a number of our clients, which has been awesome for them, but it’s created a little bit of stress and time crunch for her, so we’re definitely grateful for her to be back and joining us today. How’s it going?

Laurel: 1:13
Oh, I’m doing all right. It seems like spring may have arrived here this week. There’s sun.

Greg: 1:18
It hasn’t. No, it hasn’t. I’m pretty sure. It snowed like two days ago.

Laurel: 1:22
It did. It snowed a few days ago, which was weird, weird.

Greg: 1:27
It was stupid. Yeah Well, as always, thank you for taking time out of your insane schedule to chat, and I know that we have some really cool things to talk about today but, on the flip side, also are not so cool because of some of the things that’s happening with some brands. So, as mentioned on our last episode, as I kind of gave an intro to this episode is that we’re going to be talking about meta AI, also known as advantage plus creative enhancements. That’s a mouthful Advantage plus plus creative enhancements. So my question for everyone is have you heard of that? Because you know it’s, it’s new ish and, uh, it’s wreaking havoc on some brands.

Greg: 2:15
So we’re going to talk about some of the features that are creating some issues, that are creating a less than ideal brand perception for some brands, creating poor customer experience, and what you can and should be doing about it. So this discussion may be on the shorter side, but that’s okay and it’s important that we’re having this discussion because not a lot of people are talking about this right now. So, before we jump in I know it’s been a minute, we probably have some new listeners. So, laurel, would you just take a few minutes, introduce yourself to our listeners and share a little bit about your personal story and what you do for Stride and our clients.

Laurel: 2:55
Of course I’m Laurel Tucher. I’m an e-commerce marketer. I’ve been working at Stride for nine years now and I love it.

Greg: 3:04
It’s been a minute. She doesn’t love it. It’s so stressful for her.

Laurel: 3:11
I got my start in digital marketing doing social media marketing, and then that evolved into SEO, content marketing, paid ads, email marketing. I just love the entire marketing ecosystem marketing. I just love the entire marketing ecosystem, like everything that makes up an e-commerce business’s marketing strategy, and then how each channel plays a big role in that. I spend most of my time these days talking with clients, understanding what they’re trying to achieve and then brainstorming, either by myself or with the team, to find the most effective and efficient ways for them to execute whatever it is they want, while pushing them to really focus on their goals. So a lot of times they have these goals of what they want to achieve, but they get sidetracked by smaller goals or different things. So I’m there to listen, help them like balance between priorities and then ultimately execute so that they can reach their goals.

Greg: 4:12
That’s awesome. And she is one smart cookie way smarter than me. So people ask me questions. I might don’t Just go talk to Laurel because she knows so much about e-commerce marketing. She’s awesome, so let’s jump in. Are you ready?

Laurel: 4:30
Yeah, let’s do it.

Greg: 4:31
Okay, well, let’s start off by talking about what advantage plus creative enhancements are.

Laurel: 4:38
It’s a mouthful, just like you said, but really all it is is meta is jumping on the bandwagon of generative AI. Since ChatGPT launched, a lot of businesses they’re developing their own generative AI tool. Google has done it, so this is just the newest thing, but it’s on meta. But they define Advantage Plus like this Advantage Plus Creative. I’m going to just read it in Meta Ads Manager automatically optimizes images and videos to versions your audience is more likely to interact with. Depending on the ad format or placements you select, different creative optimizations may be available to you. So what does this mean in layman’s terms? Basically, meta has launched their own tool within Ads Manager that allows advertisers to optimize their creative. Now, many of the enhancements are really minor and you may not even notice them at first, but there are some that are so blatantly obvious that they don’t look natural at all and actually can detract from the brand’s credibility. Like all of the things, it just is a really bad experience if it’s not done properly.

Greg: 5:55
And we’re going to talk about a few of those really bad examples later on in the episode because, like Laurel mentioned, it does detract from the brand experience in some cases right. In other cases I’m sure that it’s been very, very good for a lot of brands, but there definitely are some cases and it’s also an important reminder as well, because there are those cases is that you’ve got to keep an eye on everything. It was fascinating. I had a really good conversation with another agency owner who specializes in e-commerce this morning and we were talking a little bit about AI and how more and more brands just assume that AI is good to go and they can just kind of set it and forget it.

Greg: 6:34
It doesn’t matter in what platform it’s like. Oh, ai’s got me right. It knows so much more than my customer or so much more than my agency or even my VP of marketing that I can just kind of set it and forget it. But it can also run a little bit wild. It can go rogue on you really fast and it can cause some problems, and so I think you know before I hop into the next question is just that, like you can’t set it and forget it, you’ve got to keep an eye on things. You’ve got to make sure that it’s still on brand and providing a really good user experience. An eye on things. You’ve got to make sure that it’s still on brand and providing a really good user experience. So, laurel, what are some of these enhancements?

Laurel: 7:09
Okay, this is an audio podcast, so I really wish I could like show and maybe on the blog post we can like show examples of these, so I’m going to run through them and try and describe them as much as possible. The standard enhancements for images or videos will include image brightness and contrast. So making some like filters to make it a little more bright, music, adding those two videos that just match and the look and feel of other content. This is especially going to happen with videos, stories, reels that are on Facebook and Instagram. 3d animation if it’s possible, they’ll actually give the image motion.

Greg: 7:56
And I’m not sure we’ve seen any of those yet.

Laurel: 7:58
We haven’t, that hasn’t been an option yet, but I don’t even dare go there.

Greg: 8:04
One day, one day it’s coming, and then it will shock us all.

Laurel: 8:07
Yeah, Um, this last one is really interesting image expansions to fit the different aspect ratio. So what’s what that means is, let’s say, you have an image and it doesn’t fit a mobile phone, like that’s more portrait style or, you know, a desktop, so the AI will actually go in and add more pixels to the image to fit it into the space. So this is where that generative AI is really happening. But then, on top of it, it also means that they’ll add text overlays on images when the system or when the AI, the algorithm, decides that it’s going to improve ad performance. So that’s just images and videos. If we’re talking about carousels, which are those, like you know, five to 10, like images that you can slide through or swipe through, I guess, with your finger those those have different enhancements, so those can look like profile and cards. This is a card that’s going to be added at the end of the carousel with your Facebook page profile picture. There’s music that could be added. There’s highlighting a carousel card where the system will decide which carousel image is the best performing and move that to the front of the carousel and we’re going to talk about why that’s a bad thing. But you know, just think about that when you’re deciding what order that carousel goes into Dynamic descriptions, so they will change up the copy, the descriptions, with what they think are the most appropriate. And lastly, this one’s kind of that hey, this could work for better. It’s not going to be a big deal, but relevant comments, so the system will select which comments are going to be shown because those will improve performance. People go look at the comments. They’ll see a good comment and then they’ll head off and make a purchase.

Laurel: 10:07
But on top of that, just this week, May 7th, Meta launched the newest generative AI enhancements for ads. So first, image generation this is that test, Greg, the flaming Cheeto that we’ll talk about, where you can take an image like a product shot on a plain background, and Meta is going to generate new backgrounds and even add in text overlay to it. And then, secondly, there’s text generation. So Meta will now even automatically generate text and headline text that you can opt into. That they’ll just change. So this text will, you know, just be your ad copy and so you don’t have to control that. So I mean, you talked about it Like these enhancements can be good.

Laurel: 10:56
Maybe they do drive results, like relevant comments. Yeah, that sounds great. It’s really good to test and try out new things without having to build all sorts of creative. We’ll talk about benefits, but it can be really frustrating when you have zero control over your ads anymore and you just let AI do its thing and you’re questioning whether your business is actually legitimate when you see these ads. So like that. Those are. Those are just the enhancements that are currently available, but I’m sure that more are coming.

Greg: 11:30
Yeah, I see almost like these features being really good for startups, right? People who don’t have as much time because they’re trying to do a zillion things, versus a brand that’s more established. That’s seven figures, even high, six figures. Who wants to be more strategic about how they approach their ad strategy and how they message, and so I can definitely see where that might be beneficial. But let’s talk about some of those benefits. Why are they beneficial to brands?

Laurel: 12:10
I guess Well, we’ve talked on this podcast before in different episodes, about the need to do testing on our website, on a website I guess not our website, but your website doing testing. Well, we haven’t talked about because we really haven’t gotten into this aspect of ads, but still the principle applies. You got to test. Creative is that biggest lever that we all have on the meta ads platform and really a key to succeeding and scaling is having creative diversity. So trying out different creative, not just having one single image or one carousel or having one ad that drives everything. You time and it takes time to export it, to get it uploaded, to do all those things. Plus, if you’re a startup, like you just talked about, or you don’t have an in-house designer or videographer, you’re paying a freelancer, so now you have to pay them to go back through, edit, make more ads. That’s just going to cost you a lot of money but this tool. So here’s the benefit you can now do that all inside of Ads Manager and make things a little more efficient. You can make some edits on your own, test out something new. So let me give you an example, not necessarily of when we’ve used generative AI, but when we’ve used a tool within ads manager to help test out a different feature.

Laurel: 13:49
We’ve taken for our clients a carousel of images. So they have the carousel. It’s, like I said, five to 10 images, you can swipe through it and we took those and we actually transformed them into a slideshow. That’s like a video, so it just goes through each of those images, but it’s a video format and that actually really helped performance.

Laurel: 14:12
When we ran this test for one client, the ROAS on the video slideshows was a 4.32, but the carousel only had a ROAS of 1.36. But the carousel only had a ROAS of 1.36. So maybe those aren’t really impressive ROAS numbers, I don’t know. I throw that out just because it helped add diversity, because what we did was we added a video where we took a carousel of images and we repurposed it and actually the video slideshow had much better performance than the carousel itself. This is that adding diversity. It’s helping us. And then the next time around, guess what the client delivered to us A carousel, a single image and a video. We could just test it. So these enhancements are going to allow you to do something similar test, add diversity and see what kind of performance you get from it.

Greg: 15:06
Cool, I love it. So on the flip side, like, where have we seen issues?

Laurel: 15:13
Oh man, where do I even begin? Okay, so first, like, let’s just start with like the lowest tier. I’ve seen like text overlaid on an image and it actually like blocked out some of the image I can’t remember. I think it was like a text optimization and I added this, like big block above it with some like text, and the problems were was like well, the good thing was the color of this box, the background of it was it matched the ad, like. So AI looked at it and said, okay, I’m going to have one of these colors that is in the image and I’m going to make it. So that was good, but the font that this text was in was not designated brand font. My client actually sent it over to me and was like what is this? Like they had seen a competitor.

Greg: 16:05
What have you done?

Laurel: 16:06
Well, yeah, so they asked us. But then it was really funny because I explained oh, we got opted in like we’ll fix it, we fixed it. But then they got the same look from a competitor on Facebook like the same type of ad, and they’re like I do not understand how meta or an AI thinks that this looks good. So I’ve seen that. I’ve seen copy change headlines, making adjustments which you think are really small, but people actually do read the ad copy, so if it says something and it doesn’t seem right, it could have been changed. The most notorious, which has been brought up, I think, twice now in this episode and in previous episodes, is, I think we need to call it now the flaming cheeto it is the situation, yeah so it was this image generation ad where they had this product image.

Laurel: 16:57
You described it in the last episode, but they we had these product image shots that had products within the like. It wasn’t a plain background, it was a journal props, but there’s like props in it yeah. So the ai tried to take those props out and put the like product in a different background. The problem was is that it like didn’t know how to take these props out because it wasn’t sure if they were part of the product or not, because it’s props, so there were weird shadows on one.

Greg: 17:32
They left gaping holes Like they removed it, and there were like almost like bite marks out of the journal. It looked like a cookie with a bite out of it. That was so great out of the journal.

Laurel: 17:45
It looked like a cookie with a bite out of it. That was so great. But then the last one, like you said, was it turned into? It looked like a flaming Cheeto is how our client described it. So clearly, they’re trying to test out things, but it’s just not there yet. And then I talked about carousels before this whole moving the best performing carousel. A lot of our clients when we build out carousels, it’s very intentional, right, like we’re trying to get people to swipe through as many of the images as possible. So we’re trying to tell a story and so there’s a distinct. When you tell a story, it’s in a very distinct order versus. Okay, let’s let AI decide what image should go first. It could be one that’s not even like it’s out of order, right?

Greg: 18:26
It’s not relevant to that part of the customer journey.

Laurel: 18:29
Yeah well, but or even it’s not even relevant to the story. Like the story has a beginning, middle and end. Can you imagine the end being the beginning? And suddenly we’re now into? I read a lot of books, so like it would be something like William Faulkner.

Laurel: 18:45
I know you have no idea who that is, greg but, you know where the story jumps around so much and you’re like now, where are we? What is happening? Who is this Like that? And yet we’re telling, we’re saying AI, you tell us what the best performing, it just again takes control out from those people who like the data, the information, the thought that has gone behind it, and you’re handing it off to an algorithm to decide what your brand should look like. So, like that’s.

Laurel: 19:15
Those are the issues I’ve seen, but let me my favorite is this so if you go into your ad account, under your account overview, you’re going to see a little box and it says you know, automatically optimize eligible ads, and then it’s going to give you these like potential outcomes. These are a couple. I went through client ad accounts and these are ones that I’ve seen. You’re going to get a 10% lower CPA or cost per acquisition. You’re going to see a 2.15% higher click rate, but there’s a catch to these because there’s like a little like circle with an eye next to it where, if you hover over that, there’s the fine print Okay, and so I looked at these and you’re going to see something interesting like this I’m going to read it, because I copied it the analysis results for this.

Laurel: 20:07
Like you know, this is what could happen. These are examples. The analysis results are based on a one month scaled experience during July 17th 2021 and August 1st 2021, and August 25th 2021 to September 6th 2021. Or you could get something that says this this result is based on an experiment run between May 4th 2023 and May 18th 2023, measuring the clicks all click-through rate. The average is provided to give you an idea of possible performance, but performance isn’t guaranteed, are you? So? This is now me talking. I’m not. I’m done with whatever Meta said, but are you willing to run your business on experiments from 2021, 2022, or 2023.? I’m not.

Greg: 21:03

Laurel: 21:04
The world economy. Advertising your business is so different in 2024 than it was in 2021 that I would not rely on data or an experiment that happened back in 2021 to get better results in 2024.

Greg: 21:24
I mean it’s different in May than it was to start the year. That’s how fast things change.

Laurel: 21:32
Yeah, but no one’s looking at that fine print details. They’re just like, yeah, sure, let me opt into this. And look, we talked about the benefits. I know AI is that new thing out there. Everyone wants to test it. I know that, as a business owner, you or a marketer, you’re talking about or hearing that you need to scale faster.

Laurel: 21:54
And it’s hard and it’s expensive to pay for a designer or a videographer to do what they do and I get it. But I promise you that right now, this is not the way to like build your business or its credibility. There’s just not. There’s no guarantee that it’s going to help performance. That’s that’s the kicker that I want to remind you of is performance is not guaranteed with this. It may help improve, but you’re handing over control to a platform that, honestly, at the end of the day, is looking to make money from your spend. They do want you to succeed Meta wants you to succeed so that you can spend more money but they also want you to keep spending money. So you need to be wary of these enhancements, these things that could help performance, because you just don’t know, like you don’t know.

Greg: 22:51
So I’m going to ask you a loaded question here. Okay, absolutely loaded.

Laurel: 22:55

Greg: 22:57
Now I’m nervous Should brands turn it off? Like should they go in right now and turn it off? Like should they go in right now and turn it off?

Laurel: 23:04
Well, so I was going to talk about this. But yeah, I think you need to look at your settings like for sure, and see if you’re opted in and I’ll talk about that. But I do think it’s worth evaluating whether this is like you have them turned on and how they’re performing. But typically you know if they’re turned on because most likely your boss or somebody on your team or if you’re in another agency, your client, has messaged you and said I’ve seen this ad.

Greg: 23:33
I don’t like it.

Laurel: 23:34
I don’t like it. Can you fix it? Like you’re just, you’re gonna see it, they’re going to see it, and so I’m sure it’s already like happened. But honestly, I would definitely evaluate like your settings and all of it with it right now. That’s awesome.

Greg: 23:53
Great. Well, that kind of took care of my last question that I have ready.

Laurel: 24:00
Well then, let me like talk through how to look at those settings really quick then. So there’s two places you got to look. The first is in your it’s called advertiser settings. If you’ve got it in your ad account, you’re going to see. If you go there, advantage plus creative under like the creating ads headline, and you’ll click on it. It and there’s a checkbox that says test new optimizations, that you can have it checked. I recommend unchecking it. That basically opts you into testing all the new optimizations.

Laurel: 24:34
But then there’s within the ad itself so not the campaign level, not the ad set level, but down to the ad.

Laurel: 24:41
You’ll go in and after it has like the ad creative, where you put headlines and copy and all that, you’ll see a box that says advantage plus creative and then it’ll say enhancements and it may say like you’ve got three of 10 enhancements on, or it may just have like try it out, and you can click on that and you can see which, which advantage plus enhancements are available to you or which ones you have turned on, and you can look at, see, you know, start to figure out like which have you been opted in for and which ones do you want to be removed from.

Laurel: 25:19
So that’s, that’s the first thing I would do. The second is just make your advertising team aware of this issue and audit the ads, just like we’ve done. You should get to decide how your business is promoted, what it looks like, what your ads look like. So don’t just let meta do whatever it wants. Really look at these enhancements and see if it actually does help your business or not. I’m not saying turn it all off and just, you know, get mad at meta and like let’s all write a petition on it. But I am saying like you should really be thoughtful about when you’re using these enhancements and what it means for your business and what it looks like.

Greg: 26:02
Got it Okay. Well, I guess, kind of in closing, you know, will this get better over time? I would like to hope so. I mean, what does your gut tell you? You know, a year down the road is this going to be a lot of what people are using to run their meta ads.

Laurel: 26:23
You know ChatGPT. When it first came out there was a lot of stuff about how cool it is. Yeah.

Laurel: 26:29
Chat GPT when it first came out, there was a lot of stuff about how cool it is, and then chat GPT but then there was a lot of oh, this is not very accurate and it’s not very good and it’s not. It hasn’t done these things that we want it to do. Then chat GPT-4 came along right, and suddenly people are using it all the time. So I think one thing with AI is that it has a learning curve right. We see that learning phases with meta ads kind of the same thing with Google ads there has to be a learning phase, and I think we’re in that learning phase right now, and I think we’re in that learning phase right now.

Laurel: 27:09
So there is something to be said about opting in for the algorithm to learn, the AI that is going to help business owners, marketers, advertisers to test out and add creative diversity to their ad account. That’s going to be super helpful for them and I think that’s the way it’s going right. Like AI is not going away at this point, let’s just accept it. So I do think it’s going to get better. So that’s where, as marketers, it’s really important for us to stay on top of the trends, to be aware of it, to know what’s happening and then test out, see how it looks, and then you know, make adjustments from there. You will have to embrace AI, Like those who don’t embrace it. We will not be here in a few years, but I do think that there’s hope that it will get better. Just for right now it’s not.

Greg: 28:16
That’s awesome, great. Do you have any final words of wisdom before we wrap up?

Laurel: 28:23
I mean, I feel like I’ve already kind of been on my soapbox, like I think AI, it is here to stay, um, but I don’t think that that means you have to relinquish control. I think that there is a balance between what your ads can and should look like. What you’re, you know, what you’re putting out there, is really important and for your business, for your brand, for yourself, and so don’t let platforms and AI take over yet. It might take over in the future. I don’t know where AI is going. I’ve watched too many movies but like mission impossible, like it, just the last one. We’ve had conversations about it, but it may be it’s going to take over the world, but as much as you can like take back control and just and it’s not in a huge way, it’s again not storming the gates of meta like and saying take this down. It’s saying hey, I just don’t want to opt into this, like right now, I want to see what you can do and do it better, and then then maybe I’ll opt into it.

Greg: 29:29
Got it Cool. I love that. Well, thanks again for taking some time out of your busy schedule. I can’t promise I won’t pull you off the podcast schedule when I’m feeling you’re a little busy, but that was really good. Thank you so much for being here.

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