Facebook Acquires Atlas, Enters & Advances in the Digital Tech Stack Race

Facebook is intensifying the race to connect the dots between social technology and the rest of digital media technology stack. Google’s DoubleClick platform has long had the strongest digital technology stack, but following Facebook’s acquisition of Atlas, a media measurement platform, we now project Facebook to become a legitimate contender in this growing space.

Facebook has been making significant improvements to its technology stack over the last few years. In Q2 2012, it launched a program called Facebook Exchange (FBX), which granted programmatic capabilities to select proven partners. More recently, the company launched Graph Search in an attempt to expand its platform capabilities beyond social connectors. With Atlas, purchased from Microsoft, Facebook is further expanding its position as a robust connector of digital platforms.

Atlas’ proprietary ecosystem focuses on digital media ad serving, reporting, targeting, workflow and dashboarding. It leverages partnerships for those functions it hasn’t directly developed, such as search, mobile and gaming ad serving. Conversely, DoubleClick focuses on building a single integrated stack. Atlas’ partnership approach may mean that it will have an easier time with its integration into Facebook.

With this investment, Facebook will gain significant capabilities and reach outside its own social infrastructure.  There has been speculation that Facebook intends to develop an off-deck network capability with the Atlas acquisition. While this is a valuable component, it is the advanced data and targeting that Atlas brings to the table combined with unparalleled social and soon to be search data of Facebook that gives this acquisition its greatest potential impact.

On the reporting front, Atlas will provide Facebook with data pass-back capabilities, including cookie level reports with interaction and conversion data. Engagement mapping will also provide a way of applying different conversion attribution models to an action tag that takes into account a cookie’s total ad exposure when assigning credit for a conversion. Combining the reporting system for Atlas and Facebook data into one may provide powerful creative optimization reports for all assets, including combined reach and frequency, time, geo, daypart and keyword path analysis.

Atlas will bring new targeting capabilities to Facebook including behavioral, IP and A/B testing, as well as targeting including geo, segments, system data, Windows Live ID and custom segmentations. Facebook will need to tread as carefully as Microsoft has on ensuring customer privacy is a top priority.

Overall, the purchase of Atlas by Facebook is exciting.  Atlas needs a renewed sense of technology vision and investment in order to compete with DoubleClick and MediaMind. If Facebook invests in elevating Atlas in mobile, video, search and gaming, and integrates its own social data into the ecosystem, it will succeed in making Atlas a viable alternative for marketers.

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