What is Atlas by Facebook, and how will it affect your business? The Atlas technology has changed hands a few times, but now Facebook is relaunching the tool to help marketers target ads across multiple devices. Microsoft originally acquired Atlas in 2007 when it purchased aQuantive. Recently, though, Microsoft sold Atlas to Facebook, showing that the former is giving up in the race against Google AdWords.
Facebook acquired the technology to solve problems marketers were having targeting ads effectively. With Atlas, marketers will be able to reach specific audiences, and Facebook users will see ads that are relevant to them.
What Problem Does It Solve?
Previously, Facebook used cookies to track websites visited by its users. That’s why, if you were shopping for prom dresses one day, you saw ads for those same dresses on Facebook the next day.
And as more users switch back and forth between mobile devices and computers, the end-user experiences were becoming more fragmented. Users would see less relevant ads. This is because it was difficult for marketers to track the interests of their consumers across devices and then target appropriate ads for those Facebook users.
How Does It Work?
Atlas can use the “Like” button to track third-party websites people visited on their mobile devices. Rather than seeing how a user behaves on a specific device, Atlas will aggregate the behavior of a user across multiple devices based on that user’s Facebook account.
Then based on that information, advertisers can refine their target audiences. At first, Atlas will only report on and serve ads, but eventually advertisers will be able to buy advertisements within the platform.
It’s worth noting that these marketing tools will track users anonymously across devices to protect identity, though Atlas has not specified how the anonymity works.
Why Does This Matter?
Ah- the most important part of the “What is Atlas by Facebook?” question. Internet advertising is on the rise, but there has always been a barrier for mobile ads: namely, that cookies don’t work on mobile devices. Atlas, purportedly, solves that problem.
For small businesses looking to target users more effectively for advertising, Atlas is a big step in the right direction. Its “people-based marketing” approach allows everyone buying ads to determine which ads are working and, more importantly, why.
Atlas can even track the relationship between online advertising and offline sales. As long as those offline sales are tied to an email address, for example, Atlas will be able to tell that the purchaser originally saw an advertisement on Facebook before making that purchase in the store. This will give marketers a full picture of the advertising funnel and eliminate a lot of guesswork.
The platform will be able to track virtually any digital ad: in-app, mobile, email, search, social, and video. Already, Instagram has integrated Atlas tracking.
Small business owners should keep an eye on these digital advertising developments. Currently, Atlas is only accepting new customers by invitation. But this technology, and others like it, are certainly the wave of the future of mobile advertising. Is your business ready to take advantage of this opportunity?