Facebook owner Meta announces tests of generative AI ads tool

By Katie Paul and Sheila Dang

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Social media giant Meta Platforms Inc joined the generative AI product race on Thursday, saying it would begin testing artificial intelligence-powered ad tools that can create content like image backgrounds and variations of written text.

A select group of advertisers will be invited to experiment with the tools in a "testing playground" that the company is calling the AI Sandbox, Meta executives said at a press event in New York.

The executives declined to specify how many advertisers would have access to the space at the outset, saying only that the group was small.

Meta planned to grant access to more advertisers in July and integrate some of the features into general-purpose ad products later in the year, they said.

The announcement marks the Facebook and Instagram owner's first foray into rolling out products that use generative AI technology, which mines vast stores of past data to generate new content like prose, art and software code.

A frenzy of interest and investment has swirled around the technology since Microsoft-backed startup OpenAI launched chatbot ChatGPT in the fall.

Meta's announcement came a day after its top digital ads rival, Alphabet's Google, said it would start offering integrations of the technology in its search, email and photo products.

(Reporting by Katie Paul and Sheila Dang in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy)