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Meta’s ‘set it and forget it’ AI ad tools are misfiring and blowing through cash

Photo illustration of a Meta ad shredding a $100 bill.
Image: Cath Virginia / The Verge

It was Valentine’s Day when Meta’s ad platform started going off the rails. RC Williams, the co-founder of the Philadelphia-based marketing agency 1-800-D2C, had set one of Meta’s automated ad tools to run campaigns for two separate clients. But when he checked the platform that day, he found that Meta had blown through roughly 75 percent of the daily ad budgets for both clients in under a couple of hours.

Williams told The Verge that the ads’ CPMs, or cost per impressions, were roughly 10 times higher than normal. A usual CPM of under $28 had inflated to roughly $250, way above the industry average. That would have been bad enough if the revenue earned from those ads wasn’t nearly zero. If you’re not a marketer, this might feel like…

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