Can Atlas challenge Google’s ad server dominance?

Facebook-owned ad server on a roll with new Publicis, Mediaocean deals

Google DoubleClick has been the undisputed king of third-party ad serving for years, but Facebook‘s Atlas ad server has been making big waves among agencies and advertisers thanks to an update in the fall that brought cookie-less cross-device targeting based on Facebook’s trove of user data.

Although still far from being a top contender, Atlas has signed up Omnicom, Havas and most recently Publicis to test the platform.

Now a deal between Atlas and Mediaocean will see its data targeting integrated into the world’s most widely used digital ad management platform, Prisma. Through the partnership, Atlas will have an opportunity to show off its new targeting toolset to Mediaocean’s agency clients around the world.

“Facebook has so much scale in terms of registered users that they really can make people-based marketing a reality,” Bill Wise, CEO of Mediaocean, told Marketing.

Mediaocean maintains direct integrations with the top third-party ad servers, including Google’s DoubleClick for Advertisers (DFA), Sizmek, and pre-update Atlas. But Wise said none of them currently offer people-based targeting that can match post-update Atlas’s capabilities, which are so unique that Mediaocean and Facebook had to rebuild their integration from the ground up.

“Very quickly, we realized that none of the infrastructure for the other ad serving integrations that we’ve done could be used for this, because Facebook has built so many unique functionalities,” Wise said. “They flew engineers to our offices, and we sat down and discussed how we could re-architect the way planners and buyers think about advertising.”

Like Google and Microsoft, Facebook has developed a method for cross-device targeting that doesn’t require cookies, but instead uses unique IDs based on Facebook logins and its mobile app SDK to track users across the internet. The main draw of Facebook’s solution over its competitors is the large number of users it can identify (1.4 billion), and the richness of the data it can provide on them.

Although cross-device identification is offered by Google and by probabilistic user-matching companies like Drawbridge, Wise stressed that the “people-based” approach really is unique to Atlas. “Normal third-party ad serving is about impressions, clicks, and unique users,” he said. “Built into Atlas is the ability to understand exactly who Bill Wise is – when I wake up and use my iPhone, and then I come in to work on a tablet and work computer, and then later at night I’m on my home computer – they know exactly who I am.”

Since the new Atlas rolled out in September, Facebook has been working hard to lock down technology partners and agency holding companies. It secured a launch partnership with Omnicom, followed by a global deal with Havas in January and a deal with Publicis that was announced last week, at the same time as the Mediaocean deal.

Atlas is still a long way from contesting Google’s title – according to ad tag data collected by AdGear last month, its penetration among the top 1,300 e-comm advertisers in North America is on par with AOL’s Adtech and independent ad server Sizmek, and substantially behind AppNexus’s Open AdStream.

But if it does well with top holdcos, that could change. Wise said Mediaocean’s agency clients have been showing interest in Atlas and its unique features. “We prioritize based on what the ad agencies’ needs are, and just over the last couple months, we’ve started hearing questions about our level of integration on Atlas,” he said. “That dictated what both of us we needed to do.”

Add a comment

You must be to comment.

Tech Articles

Canadians warm up to social commerce

PayPal and Ipsos research shows "Shop Now" buttons are gaining traction

Online ad exchange AppNexus cuts off Breitbart

Popular online ad exchange bans site for violating hate speech policy

Videology brings Bryan Segal on board

Former Engagement Labs CEO to lead Canadian operations

A CEO’s tips for using DIY video in consumer marketing (Column)

Vidyard's Michael Litt argues against outdated 'text tunnel vision'

Facebook buys facial analysis software firm

FacioMetrics acquisition could lead to a new kind of online emoting

4 ways to reimagine marketing with martech

Data is the new language in a hyper-connected world

Lyft taps retail tech to connect drivers to smartphones

U.S. brand shaves the 'stache and moves to beacons

Facebook tweaks race-based online ad targeting

Social giant says discriminatory ads have "no place" on its platform