Meta Platforms this week unveiled its latest blueprint on the search toward its self-labeled “yr of efficiency,” which incorporates eliminating an extra 10,000 jobs — a staggering addition to its 11,000 layoffs in November — and doubling down on lofty artificial intelligence (AI) ambitions.
In an organization announcement sent to Meta employees on Tuesday, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg detailed a restructuring plan that sees the corporate ditching low-priority projects and flattening its hierarchy, noting that an extra 5,000 open jobs is not going to be filled. As the Facebook and Instagram owner looks to right its path amid ongoing struggles, Zuckerberg pointed to AI as its next big break, a message present in several communications from the corporate as of late.
“Our single largest investment is in advancing AI and constructing it into each one of our products. We have the infrastructure to do that at unprecedented scale and I feel the experiences it enables will likely be amazing,” the chief executive said within the notice.
An enhanced deal with AI arrives just a couple of weeks after Zuckerberg posted to Facebook with a more detailed outline of how Meta plans to boost its experiences with the tech. Initially, the corporate will pull together teams which can be already working on generative AI to form one group focused on more rapidly advancing work in the realm, per statement details. In the short-term, Meta plans to construct creative and expressive tools, with the longer-term goal revolving around developing AI personas. Conversations around AI have gained latest interest following the excitement surrounding OpenAI’s ChatGPT (and now GPT-4), with others within the social media ecosystem, including Snapchat, also vying for a share of the hype.
“AI is the precise pivot for Meta, albeit a bit surprising that they haven’t been making heavy investments there already,” said Arthur Fullerton, chief technology officer at agency Formerly Known As, in emailed comments. “If you think about the opportunities leveraging generative AI within the myriad of chat clients Meta owns (WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram DM), there’s a viable opportunity to boost the user experience, ultimately impacting business results positively.”
Heavy bets on the buzzy tech comes as Meta continues to struggle. The company for the past three consecutive quarters has faced revenue declines, most recently seeing a 4% year-over-year drop within the fourth quarter to $32.2 billion and shedding 13% of its staff throughout the same period. However, Facebook reached 2 billion each day lively users throughout the quarter, which Zuckerberg attributed partially to AI inside its ads business. The move is analogous to others in Big Tech, including Google’s Alphabet, which can be also touting AI as the answer to ongoing woes.
But as Meta turns the corner with a sharper deal with AI, it appears to be on the expense of some of the energy and excitement once reserved for the metaverse, based on Jay Pattisall, vp and principal analyst at Forrester, noting that the offering has been slow to realize traction. Meta often exudes all-in behavior before reshuffling its priorities, as evidenced by its recent pullback from NFTs, but the corporate continues to double down on the potential of the metaverse in its company updates.
“Part of this I feel is a recognition that [the metaverse] is a much slower burning emerging technology opportunity and that AI is moving at a faster clip on this stage,” said Pattisall.
AI ambitions are ‘not a latest focus’
Though AI appears to be a latest focus for Meta, the corporate has made it some extent to reassure advertisers that it’s nothing latest. A February release from Meta serves to boast the success of its AI capabilities inside its ads business, noting that advertisers in Q4 of 2022 saw over 20% more conversions year-over-year, a jump it credits to the tech. Flexing its muscle within the space — and its potential to avoid wasting marketers money amid an ongoing spending slowdown — could help boost advertiser sentiment because it looks to check latest waters.
“AI just isn’t a latest focus for Meta. We’ve applied AI and machine learning to our ads rating system to indicate ads to the precise people for a few years now,” the Feb. 28 statement reads.
Among highlights, the corporate pointed to its Advantage suite of automated business tools, particularly its Advantage+ shopping campaigns, which permit marketers to discover business objectives, budget, promoting creative and goal countries and turn the rest of the work over to AI. According to findings cited by Meta, 32% of advertisers using Advantage+ shopping campaigns have seen a stronger return on ad spend.
Additionally, it highlighted AI-powered creative enhancement capabilities available through its Advantage+ suite, which may robotically apply small changes, like adjusted brightness and text placement, to ad offerings. The recently launched tool has delivered 14% more incremental purchases per dollar spent for advertisements that put it to use, the corporate found. Currently, over 10 million businesses use personalized ads on its platforms.
As adoption of AI becomes more commonplace, Meta’s proof of payoffs from its investments will proceed to be critical as the corporate elevates the tech as a point of interest, based on Mike Proulx, vp and research director at Forrester, adding that AI itself won’t be enough.
“As AI has suddenly come into vogue, it’s clear Meta wants its due credit for the work it continues to do within the space — but AI by itself isn’t going to avoid wasting Meta,” Proulx said in emailed comments. “How AI manifests itself into enhancing the experience of Meta’s product portfolio within the short-term must be demonstrated.”
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