Today Facebook re-launched Atlas, the ad platform it bought from Microsoft last year.
With Atlas, Facebook plans to use its user profiles as the new center of ad targeting and tracking, replacing cookies as primary method. In this respect, the company talks about “people-based marketing” as opposed to just cookie-based. Cookies are flawed when it comes to tracking today’s connected consumer across channels and devices, which means Atlas has significant implications for both improved targeting and tracking:
Targeting: Facebook has very rich user data, and advertisers can already finely target by very specific user details on Facebook. If advertisers can leverage this same data beyond Facebook, they will be able to improve targeting (and thus CTR) in other places outside the social network.
Tracking: For people logged into Facebook on multiple devices, it will be possible to track their activities across devices more easily. Mobile in particular has been a place cookies provide limited tracking at best. Another area that benefits is offline: even if a sale is offline, collecting a piece of information at the POS that could be linked with a Facebook account can make it easier to see real-life effects of online advertising. For example, collecting a loyalty number that might be linked to an email address that may be linked to a Facebook account.
By using its user profiles as the center of ad targeting and tracking, rather than (or likely in addition to) cookies, Facebook has thrown down the gauntlet to ad platforms. Among others, this is a clear threat to Google.