What are advantage+ shopping campaigns?

Sam Thompsett
September 12, 2023

Meta’s Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns were released to select clients back in August 2022. One year on, they’re now widely available to most e-commerce clients that have built up an account history. So… how have they impacted paid advertising?

What Are Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns?

I like to think of Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns as Meta’s Performance Max equivalent. A simpler, highly automated campaign type which has basic and, to be honest, limited targeting options. Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns leverage machine learning and a more advanced algorithm to, in theory, drive better performance. Having worked in PPC during the dawn of PMax, a lot of this felt awfully familiar to me when they were first released. Like many digital marketers, I’m naturally sceptical of black-box solutions but what’s the reality?

How Do Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns Differ?

Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns lack the features that a lot of digital marketers feel most passionately about, namely detailed demographic and audience strategies. Here are the key differences:

  • Audiences: There is no audience targeting in the traditional sense. No age, gender, interest or lookalike targeting - everything is completely open and broad. Your only targeting option is country.
  • Campaign Structure: Traditionally, we set up our campaigns in a marketing funnel structure, separating new users and existing customers. In Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns these users are grouped in one campaign, with a caveat (see below).
  • Optimisation Types: The only optimisation type available for Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns currently is sales.
  • Location Targeting: Only country-level targeting is available. Regional, city, town or radius targeting options are not.
  • Platforms & Placements: There is no control over either of these.
  • Performance Caps: These don’t exist either…
Is there anything I can control? 🤔

Thankful yes, but not much.

As mentioned above, new users and existing customers are grouped within the same campaign, however, you are able to report on spend attributed to each user group and set a spending cap on existing customers.

To do so, add an existing customer list in your campaign-level settings. We recommend uploading a CRM list and a pixel-generated past purchaser list to cover all bases:

With this in place, you can apply a breakdown using the “Audience type” dimension to see how much you’re spending on new and existing customers:

To control spend by user group you can apply an “Existing customer budget cap”, again which you find within campaign-level settings:

🏆Top Tip: As a rule of thumb, keep this the same as you were spending on existing customers within your old campaign setup to allow a fair comparison of performance between the two.

Right… Why Would You Use Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns Then?

You might be running to the hills after reading that. If these campaigns are so broad and have minimal controls, why should I trust Meta and why would I consider using them? The answer is simple. In our experience they perform well, save us time and enable us to focus on other tasks - adding more strategic and creative value to our accounts.

Meta claims that Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns can improve your ROAS by 15% and lower your CPAs by 12%

What have we seen? Despite our initial reservations, performance has been overwhelmingly positive for Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns. Although we’re spending a lot less on them vs our standard setup, we’ve seen ROAS improvements that exceed Meta’s original claim. 

Our take so far is that once these campaigns are scaled up they will outperform our standard campaigns for a majority of our clients. We predict we’ll see at least a 15-30% improvement in ROAS across our accounts, so testing these campaigns is a no-brainer if you can accept the lack of control. 

What’s Next & Are They Right For Me?

Our main reservation at this stage is that these campaigns can only optimise towards sales. We’re spending 62% less across Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns compared to our standard setup, but CPCs are only 22% lower. As we scale them up, we expect CPCs to exceed our existing campaigns in some cases. There’s always a trade-off between optimising for traffic (e.g. using a landing page views optimisation) and conversion rate (e.g. using a sales optimisation). I might be able to drive more total sales on my website if I can drive high volumes of cheaper, qualified traffic using a landing page views optimisation than if I used a sales optimisation that drives lower volumes of expensive but highly valuable users to my website.

There is also a case that if your brand is still in the early stages of its life cycle then you need to be getting as much low-cost, qualified traffic to the website and as many eyeballs on your brand. You might not get enough with Advantage+Shopping Campaigns because CPCs are likely to be higher.

Advantage+ Shopping Campaigns also won’t be right for all brands. If you need to use a localised targeting strategy, you can’t do it. If you need to serve specific creative to particular audiences, e.g. past purchasers, you can’t do that either. There also isn’t the option to A/B test yet. For us, that’s a really important missing feature that helps us uncover insights that aid paid social performance and inform our client’s wider business decisions.

We’re scaling these campaigns up and our recommendation to you is that you set aside 20-30% of your monthly budget to test them as soon as possible.

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