Here's a brief introduction to Atlas by Facebook, the social network's new ad network of sorts.

Facebook was already selling ads in other apps via its Audience Network, which has been in beta since April 2014.

This Audience Network allows advertisers to promote their apps in other apps using banner, interstitial or native units and all the targeting data Facebook can stump up.

But now, with Atlas, Facebook is extending this to websites, too. All that Facebook data will be used to sell ads outside of the network and these will be seen by Facebook users. The idea is that this data will increase the effectiveness of ads by allowing greater tracking of users. 

In a blog post entitled ‘Meet the new Atlas’ it’s clear that Atlas is promoting itself as the network that allows advertisers to get round the cookie tracking problem that mobile brings.

In the words of its head, Erik Johnson:

People spend more time on more devices than ever before. This shift in consumer behavior has had a profound impact on a consumer’s path to purchase, both online and in stores. And today’s technology for ad serving and measurement – cookies – are flawed when used alone. Cookies don’t work on mobile, are becoming less accurate in demographic targeting and can’t easily or accurately measure the customer purchase funnel across browsers and devices or into the offline world.

People-based marketing solves these problems.

facebook and atlas

So although the platform isn’t mobile only, a lot of its power comes from its ability to target at a people level, on mobile or desktop.

Logging into Facebook on mobile will register/identify that device and allow ads to be served when other apps request one. The data Facebook has about its users can also allow for the most appropriate ad to be served, much like their in-network ads. The Omnicom Group has already jumped on board. 

Targeting, serving and measuring across devices is the aim and the selling point of Atlas, with Facebook's own photo-sharing service set to be included, too.

Facebook users’ identity will remain anonymous to advertisers and publishers but this probably won’t allay the fears of some users as to how much of their data is shared.

Despite the inevitable grumbles about privacy, if the platform is as successful as expected (given the increase in mobile spend) Atlas could see Facebook increase its share of mobile ad revenue, currently estimated at around 18%, and narrow the gap to Google (at around 50%).

Looking at data from Econsultancy's Cross-Channel Marketing Report, produced with Oracle, around 75% of companies surveyed indicated that they have some sort of strategy in place in 2014 for integrating mobile into broader marketing campaigns, an increase of 16% since 2013. This surely indicates growth in mobile spend is continuing.

A Mary Meeker chart comparing time spent with media and money spent on advertising also hints at growth to come. Below the chart is recreated with UK data. Of total time spent with media, mobile represents 20%, yet only 7% of ad spend. Converted into GBP, that’s a £1.9bn gap.

mobile spend and time spent on media

For more information see Econsultancy's report, The New Mobile Display Ecosystem.

Ben Davis

Published 29 September, 2014 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (2)

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Marketing Bees

Thanks for the update!

over 3 years ago

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Chris Ellis

Thanks, but "what you need to know" is this: is it any good and have Facebook managed to reengineer it into a product that competes with DFA, MediaPlex etc

over 3 years ago

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