Meta ASC+ acquisition campaigns are retargeting on “steroids”. Are you really getting new customers?

Meta Advantage Shopping Plus Campaigns (ASC+) is the most popular option for marketers and ad-agencies to leverage the power of Meta’s machine learning to acquire customers. On a cost per purchase basis, they typically outperform other campaign types.

Since it was launched in August 2022, ASC+ has gained significant traction amongst media buyers advertising on Meta but it has some serious limitations that could affect your ad strategy.

In this article, we will identify those problems, how these problems could affect your ad strategy on Meta and what are some potential solutions you could leverage to resolve these issues to achieve greater effectiveness for your ad campaigns.

Let’s dive in!

Before we discuss the limitations of ASC+, we quickly want to highlight that ASC+ campaigns are great and can yield better results for your ads and are becoming increasingly popular amongst media buyers. If you are an advertiser who hasn't tested ASC+ for your business, you should give it a try!

However, ASC+, in its most common implementation, is not the cure-all solution for all types of performance marketing goals. To harness the full potential of Meta's machine learning, ASC+ offers fewer controls on audience to advertisers compared to non-ASC+ campaigns.

Setting Up ASC+ for Customer Acquisition - Best Practices and Potential Pitfalls

If your goal is to acquire new customers with ASC+, the best practice is to create a list of your existing customers. You can sync this directly from your CRM or your e-commerce platform (Shopify, BigCommerce, etc.).

Then, within the ASC+ configuration, you can set up a budget cap (% of total daily budget) that you intend to spend on your existing customers.

So, let's say your ASC+ campaign daily budget is $1,000 and you set the allocation to 10%, then Meta will only spend $100 on existing customers and the remaining $900 on pure prospects, meaning potential new customers.

You can even set the threshold to 0% — this should instruct Meta to spend the entire budget on new prospects, without any remarketing.

That sounds like a good idea right? Well, not quite as it's not necessarily the best approach!

The Impact of iOS 14.5 on Remarketing with Meta's ASC+

Since iOS 14.5 launch caused signal loss that led to a drop in tracking capabilities, over 70% of US users have chosen not to be tracked closely on platforms like Meta, and it's getting harder for ad platforms to use exclusions properly, even though they have the best social graph on the planet (detailed mapping of social connections, behaviours, and interests among its users).

Hence, Meta now lacks the ability to exclude certain audiences who have already made a purchase from seeing your ads, limiting its capability to focus ad budget on new prospective customers.

So, what's happening?

Even though you, as an advertiser, are sending all your current customer data with rich information to Meta, Meta is unable to use that information at the ad-auction to determine if a particular user's feed, who has already purchased from the brand, should really be excluded.

As a result, Meta shows that person an ad from the brand they have already purchased from (hint: remarketing). When this person then purchases from this brand again, whether by clicking on the ad or not, Meta will take credit for the purchase.

But here's the problem -

You might think, given that you put 0% of your budget on remarketing, that the purchase Meta just reported must be from a new customer. But that's not necessarily the case.

How to verify ASC+ campaign is showing your ads to existing customers?

  • Meta now allows a breakdown of reported conversions within ASC+ by audience types such as existing customers and engaged customers. So, you could define existing customers as one such audience type, and you could see how many existing customers purchased from the ASC+ campaign.

  • If you are using 3rd party attribution tools like TripleWhale or Northbeam, on a click attribution basis, you could see new customer CAC and ROAS separate from overall CAC and ROAS. While this is directionally accurate, you can’t expect 3rd party attribution tool's numbers to match exactly with in-platform numbers. Below is TripleWhale attribution reporting for ASC+ campaigns, all these campaigns were configured to spend 0% on existing customers.

If you are using Meta server-side tracking (C-API) and sending new customers as a separate event (custom or one of the unused standard events), then you can get this reporting in your ads manager. Furthermore, you can segment new customer’s pLTV separately to optimize campaigns, ads and creatives that are acquiring high value new customers. Angler AI’s predictive events sent via C-API provides these levels of actionable insights right into your ads manager.

Consequences of Misunderstandings in ASC+ Campaigns

As an advertiser or media buyer it's important to be aware of a potential issue that could significantly impact your advertising strategy on Meta.

If Meta is reporting new conversions from existing customers—even when you've set the remarketing allocation to 0%—you might be under the impression that you're gaining new customers at a higher rate than you actually are. This could result in misaligned strategic decisions for your advertising goals based on flawed data.

Moreover, this issue could lead to unnecessary advertising expenditure. If your ads are being shown to existing customers, who are already likely to convert, then your ad impressions aren't being utilized to acquire new customers. Essentially, you could be wasting valuable advertising spend.

This could negatively impact your customer experience. If existing customers continuously see your ads for products they've already purchased, it could lead to frustrations damaging your brand's reputation and relationship with existing customers.

In terms of reaching your desired outcomes, this issue could affect your ROAS. If a large portion of your perceived 'new customers' are in fact existing ones, your ROAS might not be as high as you expect. This could influence your overall assessment of the effectiveness of your ad campaign on Meta.

So what can you do about it?

Fortunately, there are some short term workarounds, and a permanent long term solution is on the horizon.

Short Term Solution

Meta ASC+ currently doesn’t let you optimize on anything other than Purchase event, therefore, you can create a new datasource, formerly known as pixel, and send all upper funnel events as is, however, fire a purchase event only when it is from a new customer. So Meta auction won’t get credit for repurchase transactions.

Permanent Solution

Even better news is that very soon you will be able to optimize Meta ASC+ on custom events. In fact, this feature may also be available in your ads manager, if you are part of the early rollout group. You then won’t need a separate data source (pixel) setup, but use your main data source and optimize on new customer custom event.


While Meta's ASC+ can be a powerful tool for marketers, it's important to be aware of its limitations, particularly when it comes to potentially wasting ad budget on remarketing to existing customers when that is not the goal.

ASC+ campaign’s inability to effectively exclude existing customers from remarketing efforts can lead to skewed data and potentially inefficient use of your ad-spend. However, there are ways to mitigate these issues.

Make sure to leverage the potential solutions discussed in this article to address this issue so you as a marketer using Meta’s ASC+ can continuously verify and monitor the audience of your ASC+ campaigns and ensure that your ads are reaching new customers instead of just remarketing to existing ones.