Meta Leadership Team Unveils New AI-Powered Advertising Tools

New tools include text-to-image generation for advertising campaigns and the ability to display unique messages to users.

Mark Zuckerberg smiles.
Mark Zuckerberg said metaverse and AI innovations are intertwined. AFP via Getty Images

Meta (META) has developed new artificial intelligence (AI)-powered tools to help its advertisers create campaigns and reach targeted audiences, it announced today (May 11).

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The social media company has been using artificial intelligence and machine learning since 2006, in its algorithms and in choosing what ads to show users, said John Hegeman, Meta’s vice president of monetization, at a press event today. By expanding its AI capabilities to advertisers, Meta is helping other businesses grow, added Nicola Mendelsohn, Meta’s head of Global Business Group, which helps small businesses grow using Meta’s platforms, which include Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

The billion-dollar company relies on advertising to turn a profit. Last year, 99.3 percent of Meta’s revenue, which totaled $114 billion, came from advertising, according to the company’s earnings report. It must keep advertisers interested by offering new and innovative ways to market while Meta competes with social media companies like TikTok and entertainment companies like Netflix. Earlier this month, Meta presented new advertising options within Reels to media buyers at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s NewFronts conference. Each month, 10 million companies advertise on Meta’s platforms, and more than 200 million businesses are active on Meta’s apps, said Mendelsohn.

By focusing on AI technology in its ad offerings, Meta can also prove its Reality Labs division is a valuable investment. Reality Labs has received criticism from investors in recent months as the division spends billions on AI and metaverse initiatives, though the metaverse is unproven terrain. AI and metaverse technologies are intertwined, with developments in one aiding the other, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an earnings call with investors and analysts last month.

What is the A.I. Sandbox, Meta’s new toolset for advertisers?

Meta is launching a series of AI tools through a suite it calls the AI Sandbox—not to be confused with The Sandbox, a metaverse world that competes with Meta’s Horizon Worlds. AI Sandbox allows advertisers to create different branded messages and show them to different audiences using the same ad image. The feature lets advertisers test what messages work with what users.

A gif of Meta's new tools working.
Meta’s new tools include text variation, background generation and image outcropping. Meta

The AI Sandbox also lets advertisers generate images from text and use them as the backgrounds of ads. Similar to the text variation, these background images can change from user to user. For example, one Instagram user might see an ad for a moisturizer with orange clouds behind the bottle, while another might see a nighttime cityscape with the same moisturizer image. Despite Meta leaning into advertising on Reels, a short-form video platform, the tool does not yet support text-to-video generation. AI-generated videos are much more difficult and will take much more time, said Hegeman.

Meta also created a tool through the suite that uses AI to extend existing images past where the photo ends. Advertisers might use this to display a traditionally square image in the Instagram feed as a full-screen Instagram story without having to crop the original image down. A small but undisclosed number of advertisers have access to the tools, and Meta will begin rolling out AI Sandbox to other companies in July.

What other advertising innovations did Meta launch?

In addition to its AI Sandbox developments, Meta upgraded its Advantage+ shopping campaigns tool, which launched in August and intends to improve the creation and measurement of ad campaigns for businesses that use Meta’s platforms. Advantage+ can adjust the brightness and text placement of an ad to make it perform better. It can also target products and services to potentially interested users outside the preset group a business suggested, taking the burden off of advertisers to find their ideal audience.

Using these tools, companies can let AI handle the creative side of ad campaigns and let Meta handle the targeting, said Cody Plofker, chief marketing officer of makeup company Jones Road Beauty, during the press event today. Jones Road spends the bulk of its advertising dollars on Meta’s platforms, Plofker said.

Meta Leadership Team Unveils New AI-Powered Advertising Tools