Facebook raises its advertising game with Atlas reboot

Facebook's Atlas upgrade drops the cookies, boosts mobile advertising. (Photo courtesy Jeff Pearce via Flickr)
Facebook's Atlas upgrade drops the cookies, boosts mobile advertising. (Photo courtesy Jeff Pearce via Flickr)

The upgrade ditches cookies and promises a powerful edge when advertising to mobile users

It looks like it might be time for advertisers to start taking Facebook seriously again.

Although Google still has three times Facebook’s market share in the $140 billion global ad market, last week’s relaunch of ad platform Atlas shows the ubiquitous social network Facebook could soon steal some of the search giant’s market share, if Atlas fulfills its promise.

Although Facebook has had an up-and-down relationship with advertisers in the past, it’s clear right off the bat that Atlas is a quality ad server. Facebook is aggressively pushing the fact that the new-and-improved Atlas relies on identity management instead of cookies to target audiences.

Whereas Google’s targeting is often limited because it’s cookie-based, Atlas allows advertisers to stick with their audience as they move from device to device.

That brings incredible value to advertisers at a time when bouncing among tablets, desktops and smartphones is a part of everyday life. But while Facebook looks primed to make a run at Google’s spot at the top, not all of the news is good.

The new platform raises security concerns. Tracking consumers on their smartphones has long been a challenge for advertisers. Because Atlas seems to have solved that problem, there is a risk that Facebook users could avoid the social network altogether if they feel compromised. The further an advertising platform digs into user data, the more likely users are to get creeped out.

Of course, Facebook has battled multiple backlashes over its advertising throughout its short history, and the controversies have done little to dent its user base. But with ad-free social network Ello claiming 40,000 signup requests per hour, and tools like AdBlock vowing to block Atlas, online ad fatigue could be a serious consideration for Facebook.

The bottom line is that the ability to track and store the activity of more than a billion mobile Facebook users could be a windfall for advertisers. Security concerns can be dealt with; being left behind can’t be. Even if there is an adjustment period for users to get used to the new paradigm, it’s clear advertisers must collect mobile data to compete in the current landscape.

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