Many advertisers target and track the performance of online ads with cookies, a short line of text that a web site puts on your computer’s hard drive when you access the web site. But marketers and advertisers complain that cookies are inaccurate, unreliable and don’t function properly on smartphones and tablets.
Atlas, Facebook’s rebuilt ad platform, will allow marketers access to detailed knowledge of users on thousands of other websites and mobile apps.
Atlas will help Facebook challenge Google’s online ad dominance by providing marketers with better targeting capabilities and more detailed and accurate information about ad campaigns. Atlas, on an anonymous basis, will link users’ ad interactions to their Facebook accounts, which can be used to track users across both desktop and mobile devices.
Atlas has been rebuilt on an entirely new code base. “Targeting and measurement capabilities are built-in, and cross-device marketing is easy with new ways of evaluating media performance centered on people for reporting and measurement. This valuable data can lead to better optimization decisions to make your media budget even more effective.”
The Wall Street Journal provides the following example:
A marketer using Atlas might now be able to understand that a customer purchased a product on a desktop computer, but first saw an ad for it on their smartphone device. Facebook already tracks users this way across its own service, but Atlas will now extend the functionality to other sites and apps.
The New York Times explores yet another example:
If PepsiCo, one of the first advertisers to sign on to the service, wanted to reach college age men with ads for its Mountain Dew Baja Blast, it could use Atlas to identify several million of those potential customers and show each of them a dozen ads for the soft drink on game apps, sports and video sites. Atlas would also provide Pepsi with information to help it assess which ads were the most effective.
Facebook would no doubt like to capitalize on cross-platform advertising as a new revenue stream and offer marketers an alternative to ad networks run by Google, Yahoo, Apple and others.
Because of the this ad targeting and tracking potential, Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategist of advertising holding company Publicis Groupe SA, comments that what Facebook is doing is potentially more powerful than what Google can currently do.
“Facebook has deep, deep data on its users. You can slice and dice markets, like women 25 to 35 who live in the Southeast and are fans of ‘Breaking Bad,’ ” said Rebecca Lieb, a digital advertising and media analyst at the Altimeter Group, a research firm. The new Atlas platform, she said, “can track people across devices, weave together online and offline.”
Atlas Can Tie Offline and Online Consumer Behavior
Facebook also plans to entice marketers in another way. Atlas can be used to tie consumers’ offline behaviors to their online ones. If a consumer who purchases a pair of shoes in a store were to volunteer an email address tied to a Facebook account at the checkout, Facebook could use that email address to inform the retailer if, when, and where the consumer saw its ads across the Web.
“A Facebook ID is the marketer’s Holy Grail: a persistent, high-fidelity ID for a consumer,” said Antonio Garcia-Martinez, vice president of product at ad-tech company Nanigans, who worked on Facebook’s advertising technology products until April 2013.
The Omnicom Group, one of the largest advertising companies in the world, will be the first to sign up to use Atlas.
We’re excited to announce that Omnicom is the first holding company to sign an agency-wide ad serving and measurement partnership with Atlas, says Erik Johnson, Head of Atlas. “Together, Omnicom – powered by Neustar technology– and Atlas will jointly develop integrations to enable more automated capabilities for Omnicom’s clients, including Pepsi and Intel – who are among the first testing the new platform.”
Johnson adds that a key group of partners that cross search, social, creative management and publishers will bring people-based measurement to more channels and platforms with seamless integrations.
“For example, Instagram – as a publisher – is now enabled with Atlas to both measure and verify ad impressions. And for Atlas advertisers who are already running campaigns through Instagram, Instagram ads will be included in Atlas reporting.”
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