Meta has announced its own AI Sandbox, which it describes as a testing playground for advertisers to trial generative AI tools and services. The Sandbox was unveiled at an event in New York City yesterday, May 11.
The social media and metaverse giant is leaning strongly into the AI craze that has captured the public’s attention since late last year. The new AI-powered Sandbox gives advertisers a chance to experiment with “early versions of new tools and features, including generative AI-powered ad tools” for things like text variation, background generation, and image outcropping.
Meta’s Embrace of AI is Nothing New
Advertising has long been a pillar of the Meta (formerly Facebook) business model, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that Zuckerberg and co are using AI to achieve better results in this department.
While some will claim Meta’s embrace of AI is a new development, that isn’t the case: as the announcement itself notes, Meta has “used machine learning and AI to power all of our apps and services, including our ads system” since the earliest days of News Feed in 2006.
That said, there’s certainly been a concerted effort of late to integrate AI even more aggressively, and the same can be said for other tech giants like Google and Microsoft. In a recent earnings call, the company’s finance chief Susan Li outlined her vision to “build out AI capacity to support ads, Feed and Reels, along with an increased investment in capacity for our generative AI initiatives.”
On the same call, Mark Zuckerberg referenced AI on 27 occasions, while at the same time disputing claims that Meta was pivoting away from the metaverse.
The AI Sandbox isn’t exactly out in the wild as yet, as there’s only a small core of Meta advertisers tinkering with the tools. At the moment, Sandbox can be used to generates different versions of text to highlight the key points of an advertiser’s copy, generate background imagery from text inputs, and tweak creative assets to fit different aspect ratios across various surfaces like Stories or Reels.
Meta has earmarked July for a wider roll-out of AI Sandbox to advertisers, with plans to add some of the features into products by the end of 2023.
AI for Advertisers
The major advantages of AI are that it can save money and time while achieving better performance. Meta might be less concerned with the former, but if it can make advertisers’ lives easier while charging them to advertise on its platforms, so much the better.
Sandbox isn’t the only new AI-related product Meta was shouting about in the Big Apple: it also talked up enhancements to Meta Advantage, its portfolio of automation products that use AI and machine learning.
New features it is bringing to Advantage include those that “allow advertisers to take advantage of AI quicker, give them more flexibility in the creative they use and help them measure what’s working.”
With one click, manual campaigns can be levelled up to Advantage+, which is designed to help advertisers automate personalized ad delivery and streamline online sales. AI will also be used to show the best videos to would-be consumers across Feed, Stories, Watch, and Reels.
Across the street at Twitter, Elon Musk has been investing heavily in AI development himself, recruiting AI engineers from Alphabet’s research arm DeepMind and buying up expensive computers from Nvidia. Back in March, the outspoken boss said he wanted to use the technology to detect instances of public opinion manipulation, joking “Let’s see what the psy ops cat drags in.”