Updated Sept. 29, 2014 at 2:16 p.m. EST to reflect Atlas’ availability in Canada.
Facebook Inc. is rolling out a new version of its ad platform, Atlas, aiming to help marketers reach people across devices and track their behaviour, even when they spend money offline.
On Monday, during Advertising Week in New York, Facebook announced it’d be relaunching Atlas after purchasing it from Microsoft Corp. in February 2013. So while the platform itself isn’t exactly new, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company will now be using it for what it calls “people-based marketing,” or essentially measuring how ads and targeting is performing, even when they aren’t on Facebook’s own site.
The feature is now available in Canada as well as in the U.S., meaning Canadian marketers will also be able to tap into the ad platform, Facebook Canada’s PR team confirmed.
Using Atlas, the idea is that marketers will be able to reach potential customers on mobile devices, through other publishers, and even offline, tracking when people spot something online they’re interested in buying and when they actually make a purchase at an offline location (meaning a physical retail store).
The thinking is that cookies don’t go far enough to see how consumers behave, in terms of why they choose to buy something or why they don’t. Plus, given cookies don’t perform as well on mobile devices, Facebook is touting Atlas as a way to keep interacting with consumers, even after they’ve left their desktops behind.
One of the main reasons Facebook is bringing out a new ad platform is that it wants to compete with DoubleClick by Google. Still, in terms of digital ad spending, Google is expected to take the lion’s share of it, with an anticipated 32.4 per cent of the market, according to data from eMarketer. To compare, Facebook’s ads only accounted for 5.8 per cent of global digital ad revenues in 2013, though it’s expected to reach about eight per cent by the end of 2014.
However, where Facebook may be gaining an advantage is through mobile advertising. The social platform took about 16.5 per cent of the market in 2013, though it’s expected to jump to about 20.4 per cent by the end of this year. While that’s still small compared to Google’s expected 44.6 per cent this year, that’s a drop of about two per cent for the search giant, and Facebook appears to be moving up.
So far, Facebook has named Omnicom as one of its partners, saying it will be using Atlas to serve ads. The company works with clients like Pepsi and Intel, and Facebook has said they’ll be among the first to use the tool. And of course, Facebook has already done the leg work to integrate its subsidiary, Instagram, with Atlas, allowing marketers to use the social network to measure ad impressions. Still, marketers and publishers will need to wait and see as to whether Atlas will make any big difference for their advertising strategies.