July 21, 2024

If you’ve spent any length of time on Meta’s paid ads platform, I can sympathise. Between the constant upgrades and updates, it often feels like you’ve only just got to grips with the most recent change before the next one is rolled out.

Then along came Advantage+, Meta’s latest advertising tool. Incrementally rolled out over six months, and now available across all accounts, Advantage+ is an algorithm-first advertising model that uses machine learning to automate most of the paid ads process.

According to Meta, Advantage+ has the potential to greatly improve ad performance, with an average 17% decrease in cost per acquisition and 32% increase in return on ad spend.

This sounds promising for anyone dipping their toe into paid ads however seasoned marketers and niche brands will need to amend their current paid ads strategy to make it work for them.

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Less choice, more simplicity

By switching to machine-led learning, Meta has effectively taken control and functionality away from businesses and put it into the hands of Advantage+.

While this makes it much easier to set up and test a campaign, especially for those without the time or expertise necessary to optimise their ads, Advantage+ isn’t without its drawbacks.

By limiting control over campaigns, marketers and businesses now have less detailed targeting options, meaning certain demographic-based, interest-based or lookalike based targeting is now used as a suggestion rather than the audience you’re actually reaching.

This is especially concerning for niche brands who relied on this detailed targeting to provide conversions. Advantage+ may be successful in reaching top of funnel prospects, but without a highly targeted audience it may take significantly longer and, as a result, more ad spend and creative testing to drive the results you’re looking for.

As a result, it’s now more important than ever to ensure your ad creative is on point.

Targeting customers through ad creative

A report from Meta’s data science team states that 56% of all actions can be attributed solely to ad creative. This includes the copy, visuals, headlines and CTAs, making creative one of the critical factors determining who you’ll reach and how much you’ll pay to reach them.

As campaign structures are streamlined and targeting options are more limited, ad creative is where marketers and businesses can exercise the most control over ad performance.

Creating relevant, engaging and appealing paid ads is even more important given the increased competition on Meta’s platforms. Customers are seeing more ads than ever before and as a result, ad fatigue is a significant issue. Provided marketers nailed their spend, structure and targeting decisions, they could previously see results for two months or longer. Fast forward to today and by the fourth time a potential customer sees an ad, there is a 40% drop in CTR and a 60% drop in conversion based on Meta’s projections.

We’re at an interesting juncture where strategy is no longer enough and paid advertising demands a new level of creative expertise. Now that ad creative has become the newest way to target customers, marketers need to be constantly refreshing their creative and testing various formats to give their brands the best chance of success.

How to make the most out of ad creative

As always, there are no hard and fast rules about what will work in this new paid ads landscape.

However I’d recommend experimenting with low-fi content, video and creator content. Some of our brands are currently seeing great results using this strategy.

Rather than using one ad format and hoping for the best, learn through experimentation by tapping into as many creative formats as possible. You’ll soon get an idea of what works and what doesn’t.

Focus on mobile-first creative that is engaging and conversational. Talking to your customers rather than at them is critical so you’ll need to develop specific messaging for diverse audience segments.

Ensure you’re spending time on the platforms and engaging with the same brands and creators that your audience loves. This will make content trends and messaging easier to keep up with.

If you’re still struggling with the idea of trialling so many creative options, a good source of inspiration is Meta’s ad library. Engaging with brands and creators that resonate with your audience can provide valuable insights and inspiration into what works best.

Lastly, keep an eye out for sneaky settings during campaign setup, especially in creative optimisation. Meta may automatically apply settings that alter how your creative appears, such as resizing, adding borders and text headlines, or swapping text around. These little tweaks can significantly affect your carefully crafted creative.

Optimising through experimentation

As platforms like Meta and Google continue to evolve, marketers and businesses must adapt and prioritise experimentation to stay ahead.

By focusing on creating engaging, diverse, and constantly refreshed ad creative, brands can work with Advatage+ and continue to see the results in the paid ads space.

Victoria Obieglo is account director at The Digital Picnic.

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