The Truth Behind Meta’s Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns Performance 

Truth Behind Meta

Mihi Joshi, Content Marketing Manager

Published 11/16/2023

As most marketers know, Meta’s Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns (ASC) are a hot topic of conversation everywhere. These conversations are usually charged with a dose of healthy skepticism - similar to what we saw when Google’s PMAX was introduced exactly two years ago this month! 

When Google launched Performance Max, we accumulated over six months of early testing data to inform our customers on how PMAX performs. We then shared our findings with the broader marketplace in our expert webinar. During the Q&A, someone asked if our findings could also be applied to Meta’s ASC, and while it was too new for us to address at the time, we're excited to have enough test data to share our early findings on ASC today.

After deploying over 30 automated geo holdout tests on ASC since its introduction, we have the data to help you determine the value of Advantage+ in your media mix. This blog will take a specific look at how Meta reports its ASC performance to brands, how this compares to the results we have seen from our own tests, and how to set up your ASC campaigns for success.

What does Meta’s ASC Reporting Look Like?

ASC performance

Example A

This chart (example A) showcases median data - as reported by Meta - from across the entire Measured portfolio of brands.

According to Meta, ASC performs like a blend of prospecting, retargeting, and retention but is priced like prospecting. This makes ASC look very appetizing to brands - after all, according to Meta, you get good performance at a lower price. 

But this is crucial to keep in mind when you set up your campaigns - you are not buying a prospecting campaign by default. You will be given a mixture of audiences unless you specifically set it as a prospecting campaign. 

The three key KPIs we are focusing on in this chart are CPM, conversion rate (based on impressions), and CPO (Cost Per Order). The question is: What can this data tell us about the actual inventory that is being given? 

While Meta is correct, and ASC is priced like prospecting on a CPM basis, their conversion reporting can be a little misleading. Remember, platforms like Meta tend to take credit for conversions they were in the path of, even if that conversion would have happened anyway. So, the price you’re paying may not be that great once you measure for incrementality.

The bottom line is that you can’t compare ASC to prospecting; it depends on how you set up your campaigns, and the fact is that you need to understand incrementality in order to properly assess whether or not this is working for you.

What do Measured Test Results Show?

ASC Chart

Example B

Now let’s look at this chart (example B), which shows test results from Measured’s first batch of geo tests with brands between September 2022 and September 2023. 

The three sets of bars on the right show the lower quartile, the median quartile, and the upper quartile for the (i)ROAS, or incremental ROAS, in orange, and the blue bars are Meta-reported ROAS (non-incremental).

While it’s still early, and insights will evolve with time, some clear trends are emerging already.

On average, the median (i)ROAS falls below what Measured customers are seeing on traditional prospecting and retargeting campaigns. This means the average brand may not be getting better performance from ASC than they would from these other traditional campaigns. However, the upper quartile clearly outperforms retargeting and prospecting campaigns.

The key takeaway here is that ASC's incremental performance varies widely. While we're still learning about exactly what drives these differences, we do have some early best practices marketers from a setup and execution standpoint that marketers should consider in order to boost their performance.

How To Set Up Advantage+ Campaigns for Success

One of the main issues brands currently have with using Advantage+ is that in-house teams tend to consolidate everything into ASC and allow the system to optimize towards what it sees fit

In all fairness, this is how Meta has positioned ASC - as an all-in-one, ‘easy button’ campaign. Unfortunately, that may not be the best way to use it. We have found this tends to allocate a heavy amount of media toward existing customers or recently engaged prospects. 

These are the people who already have the highest intent to purchase, which naturally results in the best platform-attributed ROAS. ASC prioritizes people with a high degree of intent, such as those who are engaging with your brand on social channels, your website, or even those who went as far as adding to and abandoning their shopping cart. Due to this high intent, these customers are likely to be less incremental than those targeted when you’re running a heavy prospecting focus from ASC. 

The way to set up for success is to ask: What is ASC’s job in my overall marketing mix? 

ASC can be successful at acquiring new customers, and if you’re in the growth stage of your business, this is probably a large focus for you. Advantage+ is a fantastic addition (or replacement) to prospecting. 

Measured’s currently recommended best practice for brands getting started with ASC is to place a 10% cap on existing customers. That way, 90% of the budget goes towards new customer acquisition, and you may want to supplement this with some intentional non-ASC campaigns as well (depending on if you have a big product feed, some DPAs, etc.). 

ASC's real value is finding the "needle in the haystack" (i.e., the best people to target out of everyone on Meta) rather than just retargeting site visitors or past customers. With audience definition and proper allocation of your budget, you can make the algorithm work for you. Just remember: Understanding incrementality is vital to evaluate whether or not your ASC campaigns are actually giving you the results you want.

Interested in learning more about Meta Advantage+? Watch the full webinar for expert insights you won’t find elsewhere, or schedule a demo to learn more about how Measured’s incrementality testing, measurement, and optimization platform can help you drive better performance.