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Artificial Intelligence Meta Media Planning and Buying

Meta uses Cannes to unveil its ‘Big Play’ – AI-enhanced advertising and messaging


By Gordon Young, Editor-in-Chief

June 18, 2024 | 5 min read

On the opening day of Cannes Lions, the tech giant unveiled a suite of new features and updates designed to bolster its advertising and messaging capabilities, leveraging the power of artificial intelligence.


Meta's Nikila Srinivasan, Nicola Mendelsohn and Matt Steiner

During an enlightening presentation, senior execs from Meta detailed their vision for the future, highlighting how AI-driven products will enhance user engagement and deliver substantial returns on investment for advertisers.

Nicola Mendelsohn, head of Meta’s Global Business Group, emphasized the growth in user engagement across Meta’s platforms, attributing much of this success to AI-powered recommendation systems.

“We have 3.24 billion people utilizing one of our platforms every single day, a 7% increase year on year,” she noted. This significant uptick includes a notable increase in young adults using Facebook, driven largely by AI recommendations. On Facebook, 30% of the content users see is recommended by AI, a figure that has doubled over the past two years. Similarly, on Instagram, 50% of the content is AI-recommended.”

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The impact of these AI enhancements is clear. Reels, Meta’s short-form video feature, continues to gain traction, with 3.5bn Reels shared daily. Moreover, 79% of users report making purchases after viewing Reels on Instagram. These figures underscore the power of AI in driving user engagement and commercial outcomes.

Meta’s advertising platforms are delivering impressive returns for advertisers. Mendelsohn shared that, according to a UC Berkeley study, every dollar spent on Meta’s advertising platforms in 2022 yielded $3.31 for US advertisers. This figure has since increased to $3.71 in 2024, representing a 12% improvement. For European advertisers, the return is €3.79, also a 12% increase, contributing to substantial revenue gains for businesses.

The integration of AI into Meta’s advertising products has been pivotal. Mendelsohn highlighted that using AI-driven tools like Advantage+ shopping campaigns can boost return on ad spend to $4.52, a 22% increase. “This is an incredible 22% increase in Return on Advertising Spend driven by our AI-powered suite of products,” she stated.

Nikila Srinivasan, who leads product development for business messaging at Meta, elaborated on the growing role of messaging in business interactions. Across WhatsApp, Instagram Direct, and Messenger, there are 600m daily conversations between people and businesses. This growing trend has prompted Meta to enhance its messaging tools, integrating AI to improve efficiency and customer engagement.

Srinivasan announced new functionalities that allow businesses to use AI to send targeted messages to subscribers and automate responses, particularly through Messenger. “We are very excited to start bringing this on to Messenger as well,” she said, noting that initial tests have shown promising results.

Threads, Meta’s Twitter-like platform, has also seen substantial growth, now boasting 150 million active users. While monetization strategies for Threads are not yet a priority, Meta is focusing on enhancing user engagement and providing tools for businesses and creators. Mendelsohn announced the launch of a new Threads API to help businesses manage content more efficiently. “They’ll be able to authenticate, publish posts, and gather insights at scale,” she explained.

Meta’s advancements in generative AI are particularly noteworthy. Matt Steiner, head of Meta’s monetization and ranking AI team, discussed the deployment of generative AI tools for creating diverse ad content. These tools have shown impressive results; for instance, Unilever’s Living Proof brand saw a 15% improvement in cost per purchase and an 18% increase in total purchase volume using Meta’s generative AI features.

Similarly, Pressa, a UK-based health food company, experienced a 33% reduction in cost per action when using generative AI compared with traditional methods. These outcomes highlight the potential of AI to revolutionize advertising by making it more efficient and effective.

Each of these updates and features represents an incremental step in Meta’s broader strategy. While individually, these advancements may seem small, together, they illustrate Meta’s commitment to integrating AI across its platforms to enhance both user experience and advertiser value. As these tools and features continue to evolve, they could collectively drive significant improvements in engagement and revenue, marking a noteworthy development in the digital advertising landscape.

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