Advantage+ Audience Best Practices Guide

Meta launched Advantage+ Audience in August of 2023, but the vast majority of advertisers still struggle to leverage it properly. Most either resist it whenever possible or use it without knowing how it works.

Both are wrong.

Advantage+ Audience is a powerful improvement over original targeting methods. That said, it also shouldn’t be used in all situations. Additionally, you should reconsider campaign construction strategies due to how it works.

There are strengths and weaknesses to consider. With this post, I hope to provide clarity on when you should use Advantage+ Audience, when you shouldn’t, and how it impacts your overall approach.

The Basics

When you create an ad set, the default targeting method is Advantage+ Audience.

Advantage+ Audience

This is meant to streamline targeting for you. Meta’s ad technology will automatically find your audience for you. You can optionally provide an audience suggestion, and Meta will prioritize it before going broader.

Audience Controls

Audience Controls are your tight constraints. While the algorithm has mostly free rein to find your audience, these controls set a few strict guardrails.

Audience Controls

Note that Audience Controls only consist of the following:

  • Locations (people living in or recently in)
  • Minimum age
  • Excluded custom audiences
  • Language (if it isn’t common to your selected location)

It’s important to note that there is no Audience Control for a maximum age or gender. This allows the algorithm more ability to find people who are likely to perform your desired action.

Of course, that could be an issue in specific circumstances. We’ll get to that.

Audience Suggestion

This is a unique approach, so advertisers may be inclined to provide an audience suggestion. While it can’t hurt, you should understand how Meta finds your audience if you don’t provide one.

Meta uses AI to find your audience, evolving as it learns. That audience may be based on:

  • Past conversions
  • Pixel data
  • Interactions with previous ads

These are many of the sources you’d provide for an audience suggestion anyway. In other words, Meta’s AI should prioritize what is essentially a remarketing audience before going broader.

Another critical aspect of how Meta finds your audience will be the performance goal (and conversion event, if applicable). Understand that this is how performance is measured, so what you select will impact delivery.

Performance Goal

But, maybe you want to provide an audience suggestion.

Advantage+ Audience

Remember that the Audience Controls act as a tight constraint that Meta won’t deliver beyond, but your audience suggestion is just that — a suggestion. Meta can deliver ads to people who aren’t part of the custom audiences, lookalike audiences, or detailed targeting inputs that you provide here.

The age ranges and gender are also merely suggestions. Meta won’t show your ads to people who are younger than the age minimum that you provide in Audience Controls, but ads may be shown beyond your age maximum since it’s a suggestion. And since there isn’t a control for gender, ads may be shown to people beyond your gender suggestion.

Switching Back

If you don’t want to use Advantage+ Audience, you can switch back to original audience options. There’s a link at the bottom of Advantage+ Audience to do this.

Advantage+ Audience

Meta discourages this. In fact, you’ll get a warning message that requires you to confirm that you want to switch back.

Advantage+ Audience

Here, Meta highlights the 33% lower cost per result based on an experiment run from March to June 2023.

Advantage+ Audience

Within Meta’s documentation, they also highlight the following stats:

  • 13% lower median cost per product catalog sale
  • 7% lower median cost per website conversions
  • 28% lower average cost per click, lead or landing page view

The first two are the most meaningful. The third is actually a potential red flag, depending on your performance goal. We’ll address that when discussion when to consider using the original audience options later in this post.

If you switch back to original audiences, you’ll have all of the old options you’re used to.

Original Audience Options

Similarities and Differences

Trying to differentiate between Advantage+ Audience and the original audience options can be a challenge, especially when audience expansion using the original method is in play. But, let’s break it down…


Going Broader. Whether you’re using Advantage+ Audience or the original audience options, targeting may be expanded beyond your targeting inputs.

When using the original audience options, Advantage Detailed Targeting audience expansion is automatically turned on and can’t be turned off when optimizing for conversions, link clicks, or landing page views. Advantage Lookalike is automatically on when optimizing for conversions.

If you don’t like the fact that your inputs are only suggestions for Advantage+ Audience, just know that your audience is often expanded using the prior methods, too.


Expansion Exceptions. As noted, Advantage+ Audience will apply to any objective or optimization, unless you switch back to the original audience options. When using that original targeting, you will have the option to turn on Advantage expansion depending on the optimization — and in some cases, you won’t have the option to turn it on.

Advantage Detailed Targeting

Custom Audiences. Your custom audience inputs will always be an audience suggestion when using Advantage+ Audience. When using the original audience options, you’ll always have the option of turning expansion off.

Advantage Custom Audience

Tight Constraints. When using original audience options, your inputs for age (minimum and maximum), gender, locations, and languages are all tight constraints. When using Advantage+ Audience, you can only provide Audience Controls for age minimum, locations, and languages. Any inputs you provide for age maximum or gender are only suggestions.

Going EVEN Broader. It’s easy to miss the differences between Advantage+ Audience and the original audience options, especially when optimizing for conversions. But, Meta says that “Advantage+ Audience creates the broadest possible audience” and that the original audience options (including Advantage expansion options) “can limit the potential of Meta’s AI which can be less effective.”

When You Should Use It

If you’re optimizing for conversions — especially purchases — you should use Advantage+ Audience over the original audience options.

The objections to Advantage+ Audience don’t hold much water in this case.

1. Going broader. Whether you use Advantage+ Audience or the original audience options, targeting will be expanded beyond your detailed targeting and lookalike audience options when optimizing for conversions. While you don’t have to expand beyond your custom audience when using the original options, the typically small sizes of custom audiences aren’t ideal for conversion optimization anyway.

2. Tight constraints. You can’t set gender or maximum age as an Audience Control when using Advantage+ Audience, but that shouldn’t be an issue when optimizing for most conversions (again, especially purchases). The algorithm learns and will adjust based on who is performing these actions and who isn’t.

Advantage+ Audience provides less control but fewer restrictions on the algorithm to help find more of the actions that you want.

When You Should Use Original Audience

There are a few cases when you should consider using the original audience options due to potential weaknesses in Advantage+ Audience.

1. Top-of-Funnel Optimization. Keep in mind that top-of-funnel optimization (link clicks, landing page views, post engagement, ThruPlay, etc.) can already be problematic due to quality concerns. The algorithm’s primary focus is getting you as many of that action within your budget, and there’s no concern for whether these people do anything else.

You can limit this, to a point, with tighter targeting constraints. Using original audience options, you can define your targeting audience with more specificity — and without turning on audience expansion. This could help assure that anyone who sees your ads will at least be in your target group (even if limiting expansion might increase costs).

2. Gender and Age Focus. This can especially be an issue if your customer is only a specific gender or age group. Women serving women entrepreneurs is an example. If optimizing for a purchase, the algorithm should sort out that your paying customers are only (or primarily) women and adjust delivery when using Advantage+ Audience. But if you optimize for something top-of-funnel, there’s little preventing men from engaging and commenting, which will only convince the algorithm that men should see your ads.

This can also be an issue with lead quality and it’s something worth monitoring. It’s not that Advantage+ Audience is especially susceptible to low-quality leads. This is a potential issue, regardless of your approach. But if you find that you’re getting low-quality leads, and especially if they fall outside of your target age and gender demo, you may consider switching back.

Should You Provide an Audience Suggestion?

This is something you should test and find what works for you. But based on my experience, there’s little to no risk in providing an audience suggestion. It’s just a matter of whether it’s necessary.

As discussed earlier, Meta will automatically find your audience based on a combination of your performance goal, conversion history, pixel data, and prior engagement with your ads if you don’t provide a suggestion. These are all things you’d likely focus on when entering that suggestion.

But here are a couple of situations to consider…

1. New Pixel or Ad Account. If you lack that historical data that Meta can leverage to find your audience, it will likely help to provide some suggestions as a starting point.

2. Different Demo. Maybe your content serves several distinct groups or there are various categories of customers. That history would theoretically be lumped together when Meta builds your initial audience. If you want to be sure that Meta focuses on a unique group that you serve, it may make sense to start with a suggestion.

How It Impacts Campaign Construction

Most advertisers miss this, and it’s a behavior I’m determined to help change.

The old school approach to campaign construction involved multiple (sometimes several) ad sets for cold targeting. You can make the argument (and I do) that this isn’t ideal even when using the original audience options when expansion is on. But it definitely doesn’t make sense when using Advantage+ Audience.

Assuming you are using the same optimization and ad creative, what would differentiate each ad set? While you can provide unique audience suggestions for each one, this is only the starting point of targeting before going much broader.

Even if these ad sets generate distinct audiences from your suggestions, that uniqueness disappears when Advantage+ Audience goes broader. In each case, the algorithm will attempt to get you more of the actions that you want. That original suggestion no longer matters (or likely matters very little).

The result: The overlap between audiences once Meta has moved beyond the suggestions will be significant. This auction overlap will unnecessarily drive up your costs.

It’s simply inefficient. Not only can you expect your costs to go up due to auction overlap, but creating separate ad sets can also prevent you from exiting the learning phase.

The eventual audience leads to the same place. Combine these ad sets for better results.

Bottom Line

There’s a lot to digest here, but keep it simple…

1. If you’re optimizing for any type of conversion, you should prioritize using Advantage+ Audience.

2. You may not need an audience suggestion, but feel free to experiment with them. They shouldn’t hurt you.

3. Advantage+ Audience isn’t ideal for top-of-funnel optimization (link clicks, landing page views, post engagement, ThruPlay, etc.), especially if your primary demo is limited by age or gender. This could even be an issue when optimizing for leads.

4. Reconsider your tried and true campaign construction strategies when using Advantage+ Audience. In most cases, only one ad set per campaign is necessary, otherwise you’re bound to generate overlap that will negatively impact results.

Don’t be afraid of Advantage+ Audience. It’s powerful and can help improve results. But be aware of both its strengths and weaknesses.

Watch Video

I recorded a video about this, too. Watch it below…

Your Turn

How do you use Advantage+ Audience?

Let me know in the comments below!