What does Facebook’s Atlas mean to you?

Posted by September 30, 2014 Blog, Digital Marketing News Comments

An increase in technology has always been intertwined with an increase in exposure to marketing, and a small decrease in privacy. With each new advancement, we allow marketers a little deeper into our lives.

When televisions first became mainstream, we invited marketers into our living rooms and gave them our attention during our family time. We could be targeted by what time we watched TV, and then as more channels became available, we could be targeted based on the channels or shows that we watched.

And then when the internet became mainstream, we became targets for even more personalized targeting. Advertisers could put cookies, or small bits of code, onto a website to follow you around.

And now, with the amount of information that over 1 billion users have willingly shared with Facebook (for free!), we have become even easier targets.

It makes a lot of sense that Facebook would use its user’s data for even more targeted marketing. After all, this is a hugely profitable advantage. This is why Facebook purchased Atlas, an ad platform, from Microsoft in April 2013.

The end of September 2014, Facebook geared up to rerelease this ad platform.

What is Atlas, and how will it change marketing? (from a marketer’s perspective)

Atlas is a new ‘people based’ advertising platform in which you focus on an individual’s behavior rather than tracking only pixels or cookies.

This is exciting because it allows you to buy ads on non-Facebook related sites using Facebook’s unique targeting ability. When you buy ads from Atlas, you won’t be creating Facebook ads- you will more or less be buying the audience… and then following these people around the web, other apps, or mobile devices. Now you can use Facebook’s data to show ads across many different platforms.

This unleashes the power of Facebook’s targeting, but with a broader reach.

Not only can you to target your ads, you can also more accurately measure the effectiveness of your ad campaigns.

This allows you to see if anyone viewed an ad or made a purchase online, or on their mobile device, or possibly even in a store if they provided their email at checkout. It shows a more accurate progression from ad view to purchase. With the ability to track people instead of cookies the margin for error reduces, and you get a more accurate picture of how your advertising dollars are converting.

You no longer have to rely on cookies, which can sometimes provide inaccurate data and make it difficult to track mobile and tablet users.

Atlas’ blog suggests that cookie-based measurement over-estimates reach and underestimates frequency. It also doesn’t provide a clear picture of the actual path from ad views to purchase. Sometimes one person may have many different cookies because they may switch devices or flush their system of cookies.


This type of specific targeting is gold for marketers. Atlas offers the power of the most  fined tuned targeting in order to show the right message, to the right person, on the right device at the right time.

Facebook has sparked many privacy issues with its new messenger app and now Atlas may put even more people on guard. Facebook has promised to honor all of its user’s privacy settings, so advertisers will not get access to your individual identity. Although they are measuring individual’s actions, they will not know the name of the person they are following.

I am sure we will learn more about this new platform over the coming months… the good, the bad and the ugly. But one thing is for sure, Facebook’s huge database full of user information has changed the marketing world forever.

Where do you think digital marketing is headed? Does it bother or intrigue you?