Privacy regulations, fewer data to track… It’s been a tough few years for Meta ads. And forced to improve and experiment, the company might’ve finally come up with a solution.
Meta introduced Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns, utilizing sophisticated automation tools and machine learning to squeeze out more despite having less to work with.
So how can this brand-new campaign type improve your ad performance? Let’s break it down.
What are Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns?
Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns is a new type of campaign—designated for e-commerce brands and online store owners such as Shopify merchants and marketing agencies—to boost the performance of their ad efforts.
💡 The purpose of Advantage Plus campaigns is to make your e-commerce ad management on Meta smooth, simple, and more user-friendly.
With Advantage+ campaigns, you can maintain a full-funnel approach with sales objectives – while expecting automatic optimization according to Meta’s best practices.
In simple terms, you input the initial data and let the algorithm do the work. According to Meta, you can use Advantage Plus Shopping to:
- Mix and match prospecting and remarketing audiences under one campaign with customized products from your catalog.
- Leverage machine learning to identify and target high-value, high-intent customers within Meta’s network, with minimal effort.
- Automatically test up to 150 creative combinations and place the highest performing variations in front of the highest-value shoppers.
…and more. Nice, but let’s dive deeper.
The Difference Between Advantage+ Campaigns and Manual Bidding
With Manual Shopping campaigns, you had to input a bunch of data beforehand, but also track, optimize, and run them, while also monitoring how varying creative setups perform.
However, Advantage+ allows you to make fewer inputs during the creation, simplifies audience options, and smoothens the creative process.
For example, you can set up 8 Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns per country and have more opportunities to reach people likely to purchase your products.
Combine it with 150+ automatic variations you can automatically test… It’s a powerful leeway.
It’s like having a little robot campaign assistant… Or is it?
What Changes With Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns
First up, Advantage+ ads provide small business owners with easier yet more effective campaign management.
Agencies can also “oil up” and rely on some of their systems for automation – allowing both stores and agencies better ad performance with greater scale and efficiency.
However, with Advantage Plus Ads, you lose a bunch of elements you might be used to such as:
- Audience tracking: You can only use one UTM at the campaign level.
- Audience definition: You can only divide into two audience groups – prospecting and existing customers.
- Less customizability: You can’t customize your placements, can only define location by country, and your bidding strategy will automatically be the highest volume.
But it also keeps some known elements, including:
- Reporting breakdowns
- Attribution settings
- Spend level for new vs existing customers: You can still control the percentage of your budget that goes into existing customers compared to prospecting audiences.
Downsides of Facebook Advantage+ Campaigns?
While Advantage+ does seem like an introduction to a new, more efficient and performance-driven era of advertising, it does come at some cost.
The main negative of Advantage Plus Campaigns is they aren’t as flexible. Smaller business can save a lot of time and create effective ads without a hassle.
But… If you’re a seasoned advertiser, you may find the lack of control annoying and possibly underwhelming. They also can’t replace all automated shopping ad campaigns on Meta properties (Facebook and Instagram).
It’s performance-driven, higher-intent focused with sales as the main goal. So for larger, more nuanced campaigns that require more input, third-party tracking, etc – regular campaigns are still better.
Finally, Facebook Advantage+ is sensitive to change. Any slight budget changes or ad structure change can reset the algorithm. So if it aint broke, you best not fix it… Not the most convenient.
How to Set Up Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns on Facebook?
As said above, setting up Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns are super simple.
- Go to your Ads Manager and Click Create.
- Choose Conversions as the campaign objective and click Continue.
- Select Advantage+ and click Continue.
- Input campaign details.
- Choose conversion location.
- Set up audience targeting (more in the following section).
- Set up daily budget (more later).
- Click Import.
Now we move onto the fun part…
How Audience Targeting Works With Advantage Plus
Meta says you should include existing customers in the account settings to see audience type breakdowns between new and existing customers.
You should have a custom audience source, but if you don’t—you can create one from your website, app, catalog, customer list, or offline activity in Ad Accounts Setup within Ad Manager.
This should allow you some control on budget allocation, namely the money you spend on retargeting ads—which should allow you to spend more money on your acquisition efforts.
Finally, it’s crucial to pay attention and define the Audience Type URL Parameters, so even though you relinquish control you can still optimize for best campaign performance.
Explaining the Existing Customer Budget Cap
When you’re a Shopify store owner you want to have more input on your ad spend to better calculate your margins. This is where the Existing customer budget cap comes into play.
When you’ve added the audience above—including the existing customers—you can set a limit on how much of your ad resources you’d want to spend on people who already bought from you.
Do this right, and most of your ad buying will go towards unaware potential customers to help you scale your e-commerce business.
Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns Case Study
As a Facebook ads e-commerce agency, we’ve had a chance to test out Meta’s Advantage+ campaigns on multiple clients.
The new feature arrived just in time for the Black Friday Cyber Monday period, so it was a convenient moment to experiment.
Here are some of the findings…
Ad Improvements With Advantage Plus Campaign — Example 1
Client: An AI-powered image enhancement and upscaling tool.
In October, we conducted a split test comparing the performance of an Advantage+ Shopping Campaign and a non-A+SC campaign with exact targeting and ads.
The findings indicate that the A+SC outperformed the non-A+SC with a 4.25 return on ad spend (ROAS) compared to the non-A+SC’s 3.78 ROAS.
That was an excellent outcome!
So we chose to implement the campaign in the subsequent month, coinciding with the Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) period.
We released several Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns and performed an A/B test with non-A+SC for the promotional offer, and discovered that A+SC campaigns outperformed the non-A+SC campaigns even with the promo.
Overall, the A+SC campaigns generated a 3.14 ROAS, whereas the non-A+SC campaigns produced a 2.70 ROAS.
As the campaign proved to be effective, we decided to incorporate it into our long-term evergreen campaigns as well as monthly promotional campaigns.
To date, the strategy has consistently produced favorable results.
In our most recent promotional campaign, we achieved a 2.07 return on ad spend (ROAS).
Ad Improvements With Advantage Plus Campaign — Example 2
Client: A sustainable soy candle e-commerce brand
We’ve started the Advantage Plus Shopping campaign testing a bit later here, in February.
The results showed that the ASC+ campaigns generated a 3.90 return on ad spend (ROAS), whereas the non-ASC campaigns only achieved a 2.39 ROAS.
Here’s the performance without Advantage+ ads:
Now here’s the performance when using Advantage Plus:
Excellent results. Of course, we continued running the ASC. In the most recent campaigns, ASC still continues to show good performance.
💡 Bottom line: For smaller, e-commerce D2C brands, leveraging Advantage Plus Shopping campaigns seems to be a no-brainer.
Early Agency Findings When It Comes to Advantage Plus Campagins
After testing out the campaigns on multiple clients, here’s what we found:
- The campaign typically succeeds when you’re leveraging high-performing ads.
- It simplifies the campaign setup process and enables the focus to remain on creative testing.
- It frequently yields better outcomes compared to standard campaigns that use targeting.
- Despite its success, it seems like it should not replace standard campaigns but rather contribute to diversifying campaigns and generating increased revenue overall.
Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns Best Practices
This is what we found you should always do when you launch an Advantage+ shopping campaign:
- Adding the existing customer budget cap: Don’t overlook this. It could make you overspend on audience that’s already familiar with your brand and make the algorithm prioritize it—as they are already more likely to shop again. Set the cap and let it rip.
- Test, test, test: Yes, Advantage Plus is mostly automated and shouldn’t be touched often as it resets. But you should test all your ad sets at the very beginning so you don’t end up spending on wrong parameters. Once all seems fine, leave it be.
- Set up tracking: Make sure you set up Facebook Pixel and Conversions API so you have more data to work with and allow Meta’s algorithm to track parameters so it can optimize ads for the best results.
- Don’t change much: If there’s a campaign type that goes by the moto “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” —it’s Advantage Plus. Simple changes can mess up the algorithm and reset the learning phase which often lasts longer than your regular campaigns. Hence, test out everything in the beginning.
By making sure you’ve done this, you’ll set up your Meta Advantage Plus campaigns for best possible performance.
Take Advantage Of Advantage+
By using Advantage Plus shopping campaigns, you aren’t only making campaign setup and optimization efforts smoother, but experience has shown your ads may perform better.
On the other hand, treat Advantage+ campaigns with caution. Remember that they shouldn’t replace your business-as-usual campaigns, but rather contribute to diversifying campaigns by using a multi-faceted approach.
Should you use them though? Yes, definitely. And if you need any assistance – make sure you hit us up! We’ll be happy to help.