Facebook Agrees To Buy Advertising Service Atlas From Microsoft
March 1, 2013

Facebook Agrees To Buy Advertising Service Atlas

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

Facebook announced yesterday they have agreed to buy digital ad service, Atlas, from Microsoft, ending months of speculation about the deal. This move not only signals the departure of Microsoft from the advertising game, but also boosts Facebook´s advertising presence as they continue to wage their quiet war against Google. Though no official financial terms were discussed as a part of this deal, an earlier piece by Ad Age predicted Atlas´ asking price was in the $30 to $50 million range.

Atlas´ service works by tracking purchases made online. This data is then combined with information about which ads the customer had previously seen just before making said purchase. For instance, Atlas can track the time between when a customer was shown an ad for a new coffee pot and the point of sale online. This data is then sold to other advertisers to refine their marketing strategies.

With more than one billion users, a number that is growing everyday, Facebook has become an attractive platform for advertisers. Some of the world´s largest companies, such as Coca-Cola, advertise with Facebook in hopes of increasing their sales. It would clearly be beneficial for Facebook to have Atlas data available for these advertisers to help them improve their social campaigns. Just as it´s been over the past year, Facebook has been working to find any bit of revenue they can to keep their investors happy.

Though they now belong to Facebook, Atlas still has some big name customers, such as AT&T. According to Ad Age, Atlas has also been losing market share lately to other ad servers, such as Google´s Doubleclick for Advertisers. Interestingly enough, Google picked up Doubleclick only weeks before Microsoft bought aQuantive, the company from which Atlas was born. The Windows-maker paid $6.3 billion for aQuantive in 2007, more than double what Google paid for their advertising company. In the years since, Microsoft has also had to take a major loss on the deal, owing to another advertising win for Google.

According to Tom Phillips, the senior director of communications with Microsoft, the selling of Atlas does not “diminish our commitment to online advertising, in either display or search."

Six years ago, Microsoft was looking to create its own advertising platform as a way to generate revenue. Now, after being soundly defeated by Google, Microsoft claims to be "laser focused on building devices and services that we believe will represent the advertising platforms of the future.”

"Five-plus years ago we did not have the stable of mature owned and operated media/screen assets with global reach that we now have," Phillips said in an interview with USA Today.

"Our vision has evolved."

This vision now includes selling advertising to promote their latest hardware and software offerings, such as Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and Microsoft Surface with Windows RT.

The Atlas team will now be moving to Facebook´s engineering campus in Seattle, Washington.