Facebook to unveil new ad platform to track users across multiple devices

The new Atlas platform will reportedly help marketers more easily reach target audiences.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
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Credit: CNET

Facebook is on the brink of unveiling a new advertising platform for marketers to more effectively connect with their target audiences.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the social media giant is set to launch an overhauled version of the Atlas Advertiser Suite, an ad-serving platform purchased from Microsoft last year -- after the Redmond giant acquired the system as part of the $6 billion buyout of aQuantive in 2007. The new version, dubbed simply Atlas according to the journal's sources, is expected to help marketers better target and measure their advertisements online.

Atlas is also expected to help marketers understand which adverts Facebook users view, decide to interact with, and which ads influence purchase decisions effectively. The platform not only collates data from Facebook itself, but also third-party applications and services which show Facebook ads. In addition, Atlas will provide an automated ad-buying tool known as a "bidder," which allows other marketers to buy targeted advertising space offered by Facebook.

The one-stop shop could appeal to a wider range of marketers keen to capitalize on Facebook's reach and millions of users, and may also help Facebook challenge both Google and Yahoo -- the former of which dominates the online advertising space.

Atlas is expected to assist the social media giant in tightening up advertising controls and granting marketers more information than they previously had access to. In turn, Atlas may quell concerns that Facebook is a poor advertising investment due to the vast amount of fake accounts and spam which may skew audience reach assumptions and results.

Financial details were not disclosed.

While advertisers currently rely on cookies to track ad interactions, Facebook hopes to use Atlas to link these interactions with Facebook accounts, which then can track users 'anonymously' across a range of devices, including smartphones and tablets. For example, while tracking a user through the ad platform, a marketer could see that a purchase was made on a desktop PC after an advert was viewed via a smartphone.

An unnamed executive familiar with Facebook's plans told the publication:

"The biggest impact of this will be in mobile. People spend more time on mobile than on desktop, but marketers don't spend there because cookies don't work. This could finally enable us to spend more money in mobile."

Facebook is expected to reveal the Atlas platform at the Advertising Week conference in New York later this month.

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