Today’s Burning Question: Facebook Acquires Microsoft Atlas


Today our panel of ad-tech honchos weighs in on the following question: “What is your reaction to Facebook’s acquisition of Microsoft Atlas?”

“Facebook’s Microsoft Atlas acquisition is a conscious step toward solving the social media measurement conundrum. Advertisers have long debated over the tangible value of social networks when it comes to customer acquisition and revenue impact. This acquisition will serve to further expose the true quality, reach and influence of Facebook advertising, and where it sits in the conversion funnel. Of course, such a move also pushes the door wide open for Facebook to create its own web-wide ad network.” — Compass Labs CEO Dilip Venkatachari.

“Facebook’s acquisition of Microsoft Atlas makes perfect sense. Facebook is starting to take control of their own monetization destiny and that starts with the ad server.” — David Jakubowski, CEO of Aggregate Knowledge.

  • “ATLAS will help define measurable KPI’s at scale through standardized ad serving technology along with targeted audiences.
  • “ATLAS helps provide the plumbing for a Facebook Ad Network. To the extent that Facebook is interested it would highlight that Facebook is seriously interested in establishing an ad network as Atlas has some of the most well-established technology for the delivery of ads from buyers to sellers.
  • “Helps scale campaigns beyond Facebook’s site alone, this is helpful to clients with very narrow audiences to help extend scale and help these advertisers navigate FB buying impact.” — Lucy Jacobs, COO, Spruce Media.

“This acquisition by Facebook really perplexes me. In the past five years of running Gourmet Ads, when we’ve used Atlas because an advertiser has insisted, there have always been discrepancies between what we serve and what Atlas recorded. Everyone I talk to has experienced the same thing — terrible discrepancies. Facebook has some really clever people. Why wouldn’t Zuckerberg create an ad server conclave (couldn’t help using the Pope’s resignation for an analogy) of engineering, then fund the team with, say, $10 million, lock the doors and say “don’t come out till you’ve got an ad server. Maybe the acquisition is about acquiring people or customers, I cant see it being about a single technology.” — Benjamin Christie, founder and managing director of Gourmet Ads.

“Yet another move towards Facebook establishing itself as the preeminent force in the world of online advertising. Last year, an estimated 28% of display ads served in the U.S. were on Facebook. The Atlas acquisition could help Facebook take a sizable bite out of the 72% left on the table. Facebook ad products like sponsored stories and promoted posts that have social context (i.e. showing which of your friends like the brand) consistently prove to drive awareness and purchase intent up to 200% to 400% more effectively than their non-social counterparts. Right now, Facebook does not allow advertisers to leverage this kind of social data in display units off of Facebook. With Atlas as a proprietary ad serving platform, Facebook could offer advertisers the exclusive ability to leverage the open graph in display off of Facebook, a huge differentiator to running through other platforms. And for mobile, with an installed base of nearly 75% of iPhone devices and the Android base on the rise, the potential to deliver powerful, contextual messages that are both location-aware and socially relevant would be unlike any other product on the market. Would advertisers be willing to pay a 200% to 400% premium for ads that resonate on such a deeper level? They just might.” — Alex Jacobs, VP of Social Marketing, Digitas.

“Attribution is the key here. Facebook hasn’t been at the forefront of ROI-driven metrics (especially as compared to Google). But brands need to — and should be able to — understand how a user’s Facebook activity influences purchase decision. This allows Facebook to participate in the ROI conversation much better than before — now that they can track a paid click to a user purchase. This also makes sense because Facebook promotes its advertising as being the best of the best. However, the arbitrary nature of a ‘like’ has not been a strong enough indicator of purchase intent. (That’s why we built a solution to capture and share intent). Third-party data allows Facebook to get much closer to direct purchase intent in order to further refine targeting. Brands need to select ads API partners who can effectively guide them through the process of selecting an appropriate media mix that leverages Facebook ad products differently. An Open Graph sponsored story should not be tied to the same KPI as a FBX marketplace ad or custom audience targeting ad unit.  Given this announcement, I think we can expect a couple things from Facebook in the coming months:

  • “Ad impression attribution (not just click).
  • “Content (paid or organic) impression attribution, for example, if I ‘Like’ Lululemon on Facebook and see an organic or paid page post from them about a sale, then visit their website and buy something from that sale, this would identify what type of ‘value’ Facebook should place on that.” — Abby Ross, VP of Product at Blueye.

“Facebook’s acquisition of Microsoft Atlas shows that its getting very serious about proving to advertisers that advertising on Facebook works.  It will allow Facebook to demonstrate to advertisers that an ROI can be attributed to its ads.  Remember a major question about advertising on Facebook has been the effectiveness of conversion.  Advertisers will be able to see the impact that these ads have and how critical Facebook is as an influencer.  The Atlas tools will enable advertisers to determine what percentage of people that they are reaching are found only on Facebook.  Likewise it will assist Facebook in building a network around the web.” – David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision, LLC.

“First and foremost, this is one way for Facebook to continue to compete with Google on technology and products within the digital ad ecosystem – by acquiring the biggest rival to Google’s DoubleClick.  But maybe even more importantly, this could be a way for Facebook to position itself as a legitimate advertising network. Historically they’ve done a mediocre job proving that their ad products deliver significant value to advertisers. A world class ad serving and action tracking system could help them tell a much better story. This step would be a critical one if Facebook intends to make more profitable use of all the data they collect on their users. By acquiring Atlas, they now have the infrastructure to deliver and end-to-end, targeted and accountable digital advertising solution, with the unique advantage of having valuable data that no other technology or ad network can offer.” — Dave Martin, SVP, Media at Ignited.

“Facebook is rapidly evolving their business to provide the level of service, flexibility, and data advertisers expect. Now it’s up to the audience-facing advertising offering to prove out value.” — Matt Rosenberg, VP Marketing, Taykey.

“Until now, the technologies integrated with Facebook advertising have been the PPC platforms, which make its management more search-like than display-like. The news of the Atlas acquisition is a move by Facebook to become a key player in the display space, similar to how GDN became a bigger display player after the DoubleClick acquisition.” — Liz Serafin, Vice President, Media, Geary LSF.

“Pretty Faces in Important Places. As Facebook expands the value of geographic pinpointing will increasingly become an important feature. It’s not who the folks are but where they are; proximity dependent or far reaching communication would benefit from Atlas features. Marketing and advertising would focus avoid shot gun waste. It’s a positive move. Facebook can now offer great and valuable geographical features.” —Naseem Javed, author, Image Supremacy.

The recent purchase by Facebook of Atlas from Microsoft is a long expected move that will help accelerate their efforts not only to boost their own advertising revenues, but also eventually become a bigger player overall in online advertising.  Essentially they aim to offer marketers an alternative and/or supplement to Google driven ad inventory.  To counter Google’s inventory options powered by users search habits, Facebook will be able to offer inventory and tracking capabilities powered by the only other internet activity that users engage with more than search: social.  Targeting and retargeting ads based on users social habits and behaviors will indeed give marketers another valuable tool to add to their overall digital marketing mix.

“Facebook and DG currently are, and will continue to be, very strong partners. In the same way that advertisers today use the DG MediaMind platform to manage campaigns across GDN, Invite Media and the Microsoft Advertising Network, MediaMind manages Facebook’s inventory as part of an overall marketing plan consisting of multiple ad inventory  sources both online and traditional (publishers, broadcasters, etc.).  Thanks to our inventory agnostic approach, DG MediaMind is one of the only campaign management platforms that have been approved for click and view-through tracking on Facebook. This capability is being widely used by our platform customers and is a critical component of our multi-channel analytics and attribution capabilities.  In addition, as part of a managed service, DG purchases inventory on Facebook on behalf of our clients, both within Facebook apps and their marketplace ads. And we currently utilize the Facebook insights API to provide our customers with new insights about their audiences.

“We will work with Facebook even more closely since DG MediaMind is the most scalable, independent platform for any advertiser wanting to create and deliver engaging multi-screen advertising.  Our expertise with rich media, video, HTML5, synced advertising experiences, social TV, and media buying will now be more important to Facebook as it attempts to better monetize its data and ad inventory across its owned and operated properties, applications and mobile offerings.

“DG’s multifaceted involvement in social marketing is complementary to our ongoing quest to promote and remove obstacles from the convergence of video marketing across screens. Thanks to our large footprint in both TV and Online advertising, we are uniquely positioned to drive video convergence forward and are committed to doing so. Our 2013 product road-map reflects this commitment as well as our continued substantial investment in a first-class online campaign management platform.” — Andrew Bloom, Senior Vice President, Strategic Business Development, DG.

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  1. In ‘real time’ (and from within an RTB search intent based independent marketplace) it will allow Facebook’s own advertisers to find users displaying RT buying intent, as is directly coming from SE queries’ data.

    This then creates a ONE robust RTB auction as advertisers (including Google’s own), all get to compete ‘blindly’ against each other for all of these unique, single impressions.

    Users can next be found either on Facebook or, within/across a combined one publisher base, within the ‘ultimate’ in marketplaces.

    The anticipated bidding ‘action’ ensures a stronger ROI for publishers, that includes (no surprise), Facebook.

    What I feel is – is that PLAs are coming (not just on RT search engine SERPS), as they’ll get to appear across this one huge publisher base, in a one global ‘intent’ marketplace.


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