Facebook claims it has solved the ‘cross device problem’ with ad targeting platform

Facebook is claiming it has solved the “cross device problem” for marketers with the launch of a new advertising platform that it says will help brand marketers target ads to people across devices, platforms and publishers.

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Atlas will track path to purchase regardless of site or device, Facebook says.

Facebook’s Atlas is a rebuilt version of the Atlas Advertiser Suite it bought from Microsoft last year.  It claims to offer marketers a way of seeing which online campaigns, on its site and others and on any device, Facebook users have seen and acted upon.

The social network already offered marketers a way of tracking users of its own site across devices but not elsewhere. It is hoped Atlas will demonstrate that an ad seen on a phone, tablet or app led to the purchase of a product or service on a laptop or a desktop computer, for example, something the absence of cookies on mobile devices makes difficult.

David Jakubowski, head of ad tech and Atlas at Facebook told Marketing Week that the the new service hopes to clear up the uncertainty marketers have when tracking campaign effectiveness.

“We’ve solved the cross device problem. People have a number of devices – the phone in their pocket, their computer at work and their tablet or computer at  home. Sixty per cent of people use more than one device every day, a quarter use three or more.

“In a world built around cookies, these are three different “people” making it a bit of guesswork. We’re solving that problem. Cookies also don’t exist in mobile devices the way they do on desktop: there are different configurations by operating system, whether in-app or on a mobile browser, etc.

“Put this all together and you get distorted and misleading targeting and measurement for advertisers across the web.”

Forrester analyst Jennifer Wise says Atlas is potentially a game changer. “Facebook’s announcement is big on vision and thin on detail. But if it can deliver on its promise and successfully build a network of partners, this would revolutionise the accuracy, the effectiveness and the accountability of mobile advertising. By the end of this decade mobile will account for two out of every five digital ad dollars. But today mobile ads too often under perform compared to the ads delivered on PCs, and some marketers remain hesitant to invest due to targeting and measurement concerns.

”This move could provide the answer by using people’s actual identities to connect the dots across channels. That would let marketers both target mobile users more accurately based on their online behaviours, and measure whether people who see mobile ads convert from their computers – both huge steps forward in proving and improving the value of mobile marketing.”

For Facebook, the launch is an attempt to convince agencies and their clients that it can make sense of online behaviour, providing them with reach and insight. Jakubowski adds: “We consistently hear two things. Publishers want more personalised ad experiences for their audiences and marketers want to see the Impact their ads are actually having on real business results… not guesswork.”

Facebook says it has rebuild the code base previously used for Atlas and is working with search, social, analytics and rich media agencies as well as publishers – including its own Instagram, which is enabled with Atlas – to bring what it describes as “people-based measurement” to more channels and platforms.

Inisight is pulled on mobile devices from Facebook data and the device identifier. A brand can ask for groups of Facebook users that match its targeting criteria and Facebook will provide anonymised data on users that can then be targeted through Atlas. On desktop or laptops from Facebook information and cookies.

It will reach marketers through an agency-wide deal with Omnicom, a tactic recently employed when launching the first UK ads on Instagram when all brands involved were Omnicom clients. Among the first brands using Atlas are Pepsi and Intel.

Jakubowski would not confirm a recent Wall Street Journal article that claimed Atlas would also provide a demand-side platform (DSP) to allow brands to target Facebook users on other sites but did not rule it out. “We’re currently testing a few options related to programmatic bidding. We don’t have any news to share at this time,” he adds. DSPs are also listed as partners on the Atlas site. 

Atlas launches worldwide today (29 September).

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