Facebook Announces Launch of Atlas, their New Ad Platform

At Net Media Planet’s Digital Breakfast Seminar last week, our client panel discussed cross-channel continuity and how to tackle the omni-channel challenge. Both of these topics are critical to get right for not only our client panel, but also for the wider marketing community.

Less than one week later, Facebook has announced the launch of Atlas, their new Ad Platform, which is designed to tackle these problems head on. Atlas is intended to reach people across devices and bridge the gap between online impression and offline purchases through what they are calling “people-based marketing”.

Facebook previously utilised data from its 1.3 billion users to sell highly targeted advertisements through their social media platform. Now, with Atlas, marketers can harness Facebook’s extensive data across its network of thousands of websites and mobile applications.

There is an expectation that this could cause challenges and increased competition for Google, who currently own nearly one-third of the global digital advertising market. Facebook is taking on the inefficiency of the common cookie by using data that Google doesn’t have access to. Other advertising platforms typically track users’ browsing data through cookies. However, cookies can be unreliable as consumers increasingly switch between or share multiple devices. In fact, multiple cookies can often represent a single person.

What potential benefits does Atlas offer?

– It’s all about the Data: The sheer amount and depth of information is Atlas’ primary advantage. It comes from actual users who have voluntarily divulged their personal information. Atlas allows marketers to choose a “real person” as oppose to a cookie representing a person’s stored behavioral trends. By example, you could target a campaign to women who are 20-35 years of age in London, who are engaged and fans of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. This increase in targeting accuracy could effectively reduce wasted budget.

– Cross-Device Strategies: Where traditional digital advertising strategies often fall short is in their inability to follow users across multiple devices. With Atlas, if a user is logged in to Facebook via their smartphone, ads can be served and tracked to that specific person. This opens up a whole new element to tracking a consumer through the purchasing funnel. Previously, you wouldn’t have been able to determine whether a user has seen your ad on a different device before an online purchase occurred. With many users having multiple devices this has been a challenge for marketers for quite some time.

What questions and concerns might marketers have?

– Online to Offline: Facebook states, “Atlas can now connect online campaigns to actual offline sales, ultimately proving the real impact that digital campaigns have in driving incremental reach and new sales.” They go on to say that it, “allows advertisers to measure which channels, platforms and publishers within their online campaigns impacted the actual sales that happened in-store.”

These are big claims and we wonder will it be as effective as they say? In terms of targeting, Facebook clearly has some of the most granular data available, however, we are curious to see how they effectively track online impressions to offline purchases. Their description of the process is lacking in detail. Is it possible that Facebook has found a way to bridge one of the biggest gaps marketers face? Only time and extensive usage will tell.

– Privacy Concerns: This has already raised many concerns about the privacy of Facebook users’ information. While Facebook has stated that they never reveal the identity of the consumer, it is+ still creating concern amongst online communities. Many already worry about the amount of their personal information companies can access about them.

Last June Facebook warned users that it would be increasing user tracking for advertising purposes, allowing users to see and change some of the information that had been collected. Is this good enough for the Facebook user or will an even greater number leave to use social sites which promise not to use their information for advertising?


Is Facebook’s Ad Platform the answer to the Omni-Channel challenge?

Facebook certainly has granular targeting capabilities, something that Net Media Planet has taken advantage of in our social media advertising. Furthermore, its ability to effectively connect users across devices is something that fulfils a long-standing marketing challenge. However, there is still much testing to be done and knowledge to be gained before the true effectiveness of Atlas can be evaluated.