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Facebook to follow your virtual footprints

What you now do on Facebook will influence how you view the rest of the web. This week, in a continuing trend that prioritizes advertiser spending over user privacy, Facebook will begin using user data for its new ad network, Atlas, which will serve users ads on non-Facebook sites. These ads will be based on what Facebook already knows about you.

What’s Going On

In a blog post this week, Erik Johnson, head of Atlas, summarized the program’s purpose as “proving the real impact that digital campaigns have in driving incremental reach and new sales.”

Last year, Facebook acquired Atlas, an advertising platform, for $100 million and completely rebuilt the network. Atlas can and may serve as an alternative to Google’s AdWords, allowing advertisers to follow users across sites and platforms. This sort of holistic tracking has been limited, until now, by the use of cookies, which can’t track mobile activity.

What It Means

Atlas is attempting to solve the current marketer’s dilemma over the limitations of cookies. Cookies serve as the current vehicle for tracking online activity. With mobile usage continuing to rise, new tracking methods must be employed.
Atlas continues the ongoing advertising trend from the broadcasting to “person-casting.” Atlas is hoping to tap into purchasing behaviors across platforms and cash in where cookies aren’t effective. While Google’s AdWords track search inquiries, it does not track user behavior across sites, nor necessarily dictate purchasing behaviors. Atlas is aiming at becoming the new way marketers interact with consumers.

Bottom Line

With an industry shift towards people-based marketing, marketers need to amend how we reach our publics. This service has the potential to better optimization decisions that will allow more effective media budgets for marketers. This service is built to reach across social platforms as well. Instagram is already enabled with Atlas to measure and analyze ad impressions. This shift to “people-casting” should signal a change in how marketers reach consumers. We should adjust our practices to include treating consumers as individuals, not statistics. Agencies should revise their tactics to adhere to people-based marketing.