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How Facebook plans to control digital advertising

Matt Kapko | Oct. 3, 2014
Facebook is trying to take cross-platform advertising to uncharted territory with a complete revision and relaunch of its Atlas ad serving platform. It's the second ad network of sorts from the world's largest social network and some are already suggesting how it could unleash Facebook's vault of data in ways never seen before.

But Atlas claims it can now help marketers track the effectiveness of their ads around the Web and help them buy more effectively targeted ads on other sites and apps using Facebook data.

User Data Will Not Be Shared

Facebook maintains that user data will kept private and anonymous, and that no personal data about users' identity will be shared with its advertising customers. But since Facebook knows who you are, it could presumably match your profile and identity with customer profiles shared by retailers and other brands.

If you're not comfortable with Facebook collecting and using your data for profit you probably shouldn't be using the service at all anyway.

Facebook is already tracking its users' activity when they visit non-Facebook sites or apps by using cookies, pixel tags and the unique hardware identifier on smartphones. But what's unclear is how Facebook can effectively track users who are not logged into Facebook on all of their devices all the time.

Without that social login or persistent cookie, there will be gaps in the measurement and value for marketers' overall media mix. Still, Facebook has data on more people than any other entity on the planet. The company's massive reach of 1.3 billion people is unmatched, so when it can say for certain that a specifically targeted user received an ad most brands will not hesitate to take faith in that opportunity.

Facebook is positioning Atlas as a simple and holistic platform for advertisers to create, buy, measure and optimize digital campaigns across mobile devices and the Internet at large. Atlas has been rebuilt from the ground up, according to the company, to help advertisers gain insights into what drives incremental reach and new sales.

Ambitious Effort With Massive Upside

The ad server provides marketers with near real-time views into ad performance so they can uncover and reduce wasted spending. It's an ambitious effort from Facebook with massive upside potential.

The global advertising conglomerate Omnicom is the first holding company to sign an agency-wide deal with Atlas for ad serving and measurement, but there will no doubt be others in the months to come. Early access has its benefits too with Omnicom's clients Pepsi and Intel being among the first brands to test the new platform, according to Atlas. Facebook has also signed agreements with a dozen creative partners and 17 publishers.

Facebook wants to gain even deeper access and more control over publishers' ad businesses with Atlas. And why wouldn't it? The company stands to gain a new revenue stream, another competitive threat against Google and even more data on the activity and purchasing behavior of its users.


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