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Facebook Atlas Ads – Your Guide to this Targeted Ad Service from Facebook

November 7, 2014

minutes read

facebook atlas advertising platform

Facebook Advertising, to date, hasn’t been a terribly impressive source of leads and sales for most small businesses. Sure, you can find a few success stories. But for most, Google Adwords is the only game in town. Google attracts at least 67% of search traffic and Adwords really is a fantastic product. Adwords has earned its reputation as the go-to place for PPC advertising.

That’s not to say that Facebook advertising has been a failure. In January 2014, Facebook reported that 53% of its revenues came from mobile advertising. Despite what the numbers say, the social media behemoth has had trouble convincing many businesses that Facebook is a valuable advertising and marketing platform.

Enter Facebook Atlas Ads… and the scene might just change.

By relaunching Atlas, a third-party ad management and tracking tool that the company purchased from Microsoft last year for $100 million, Facebook ads are poised to become a lot smarter, across all platforms. With a lot in store for the small business from an advertising perspective, it just make sense for small businesses to give Facebook advertising another look.

The Cookie is About to Crumble

facebook atlas ads

Traditionally, advertisers have used cookies to track people online. Cookies aren’t a reliable tracking method and are completely ineffective on mobile devices.

The usage of cookies and its effectiveness has been a point of debate for some time. But there has not been too many alternatives to this until now. But with the launch of Facebook atlas ads, this is going to change.

Let me quote something from Atlas’ website:

Cookies alone limit advertising effectiveness – because they’re ineffective on mobile and suffer from degradation over time…Atlas helps marketers reach real people across devices, platforms and publishers to target, deliver, optimize and measure advertising results. Using the power of real people, Atlas can connect online touchpoints with offline purchases to generate a new understanding about what really drives incremental reach and new sales.

So, advertisers who use Facebook Atlas ads should be better able to connect advertising to actual sales, even when the sale takes place offline. However, Atlas’ tracking capability works only when users are logged in to Facebook. Will that be a drawback to the entire system is yet to be seen.

Atlas vs. Google DoubleClick

“Retargeting” has been the golden nugget in advertising these days. It is unlikely that you will be surprised to see that product that you surfed on an online store follow you throughout on Facebook and all other social media sites and websites that you visit, at least these days. We have gotten used to retargeting now, aren’t we?

Retargeting is a highly efficient type of PPC advertising campaign that shows ads for your products/services to people after they visit your website. But, retargeting relies on cookies.

DoubleClick is Google’s PPC retargeting service and they use the same method of tracking that most retargeting services use – cookies.

Atlas does not rely on cookies. When a user is logged into Facebook, Atlas will be able to target individuals with highly customized ads as they surf the web and as they jump from laptop to iPhone, to tablet to whatever device a consumer is using.

Will the Opt-Out Stand?

facebook atlas

It’s worth noting that Atlas brings with it yet another important change: the ability for users to opt out of targeted ads—at least, that’s what the platform’s privacy policy states.

Whether or not Facebook will amend that policy to fall in line with its ever-churning data mining and marketing operation remains to be seen. But if they don’t this is an aspect that will change the advertising world, for sure.

Facebook Atlas ads Remains Vulnerable to Ad-blocking

ad blocking services

It’s interesting that in the race to optimize and place Facebook ads on every platform, Facebook Atlas ads seemingly ignores the growing threat of ad-blocking.

AdBlock and similar browser extensions and add-ons are available on both mobile and traditional devices. According to this article on Forbes, the use of ad-blocking services is on the rise. And Atlas is vulnerable to these ad-blocking services.

If Facebook doesn’t do something about it, this is sure to reduce the effectiveness of ads served by this platform. And as an advertiser, I might not be too keen on using a platform where the possibility of an ad being seen itself is just a probability.

How to Get Into Facebook Atlas Ads

Currently, Atlas is available to businesses by invitation only.

Not something new..eh!

Most services that start out do the same. They start off as an “invitation only” platform and later change. It will certainly change in case of Facebook atlas as well. For now, a small business can apply for an invitation here.


Facebook Atlas is very new and it’s too soon to judge how well it will work for advertisers. We can only hope that Atlas will be a strong competitor and give small businesses another advertising option. Having said that, with some of the things that they have announced to be a part of the platform, it is surely worth a try.

Images used under license from fotolia.com.

This is a Guest Post by Ellen Gipko. Ellen Gipko is a reporter for HubShout, a US based white label SEO reseller, website reseller and digital marketing firm with offices in Falls Church, VA (Washington, DC Metro) and Rochester, NY.

About the author 

Dilip Kumar  -  

My name is Dilip. I am a fan of the internet and love the many opportunities that the world wide web provides. If used constructively , the internet can give you an opportunity to lead a life free of the 9-5 treadmill and will be able to give more time to your family members.
Read about internet entrepreneurship at my blog.

My name is Dilip. I am a fan of the internet and love the many opportunities that the world wide web provides. If used constructively , the internet can give you an opportunity to lead a life free of the 9-5 treadmill and will be able to give more time to your family members. Read about internet entrepreneurship at my blog.

  • Well, if the ads can be blocked by an ad blocker then it’s not all bad. I highly doubt Facebook will give you the ability to opt-out of the ad without a fight, so downloading an ad blocker might be the best choice for users.
    For advertisers, the retargeting is nice.

    • Retargeting is the talk of the town and from an ROI perspective, it is extremely important that you use this option, else you are losing out on some good money that you could have made.

  • “When a user is logged into Facebook, Atlas will be able to target individuals with highly customized ads as they surf the web and as they jump from laptop to iPhone, to tablet to whatever device a consumer is using.”

    I think this is an interesting way to customize ads for people and still do retargeting in a way. Interesting.

  • I don’t think ad-blockers are too big of a concern. The last numbers I’d seen about people using them were very low. Most people do shop online even before making an in-store purchase, and smart shoppers want to see those advertisements. If Atlas can help get the right ads in front of the right people at the right time, it’ll be a much greater success than it’s predecessor and successfully rival the competition.

  • I think the rise in ad-blocking software should actually push advertisers to think of other ways to reach customers. Think of it this way: web users see ads as invasive, so they download browser extensions to get rid of them. Advertisers that find ways around those extensions are now imposing their ads on users, which could force users to abandon certain websites and avoid an advertisers’ product.

    The extensions send a pretty clear message: these ads aren’t always effective. Users that don’t have them blocked may not even click on them because they’re just programmed to ignore them at this point, especially with the threat of malicious links and spam. I think this pushes advertisers to find other ways to reach customers. Some businesses may want to try posting useful content and promoting posts (which is already done on social media anyway) rather than focusing so much on banner ads, which have more limited exposure.

    • Right. To your point, if I am installing an ad-blocking software it is because I am not interested in those ads. While I would like to avoid seeing ads everywhere, I still click on one of those ads that popup and could not be blocked by the software and a lot of times end up buying it. Now it is for the business to decide if they want such customer, while keeping in mind that the ROI might not be too great with them.

  • This writer raises a really good question about the opt-out policy. That doesn’t really seem like something Facebook would leave intact.

  • Yeah, up till now I haven’t been too impressed by Facebook ads. They’re constantly (like for years now) trying to get me to sign up for Catholic dating sites. I’m a married atheist.

  • At this point, social media is seamlessly integrated into everyday life: despite the initial hiccups, its success was almost guaranteed. Can’t wait to see what happens with Atlas!

  • Atlas does have an advantage if it doesn’t use cookies like other companies do but if ads are going to be blocked this will just crush facebook. It would be nice for small business to have facebook as a option but time will tell.

    • Facebook has been a good option for small business owners, but that is only if you know how to play the game. Having said that it is also worth mentioning that if you are not using FB ads then you are losing out on a lot of cash.
      Atlas could just be an addition to what some of the small business owners are benefiting from at Facebook. But is you are amongst the ones who are still to learn the tricks and jump into the advertising bandwagon, it will be another tough nut to crack.

  • Interesting take on this. It was reported that Google sees Amazon as more of a threat to their paid search empire over Facebook, so do you think Atlas is going to give FB the needed push? Not sure if I see FB as much of a threat to direct sales/conversions as I think Amazon could be.

    • You are right Eric. FB will not be too much of a threat to direct sales but Atlas could be a good competition to the now monopolistic rule of Google paid ads.

  • Great read! It’ll be interesting to see how this affects the marketing landscape. I wonder if Facebook and Bing will be doing anything to integrate this together. Look forward to seeing how it develops.

  • Facebook is certainly recooping after their IPO, methinks those who were naysaying now wish they had gotten in at that point.

  • Of course Facebook wants to compete, and especially on mobile, but I just don’t see them putting a dent in Google’s market share.

    • I have no option but to agree because Google is a little too established to be shaken by it. But some time down the line, I will not be surprised if Atlas becomes a serious competition.

  • I think any affront to Google’s advertising monopoly will be interesting to watch. But i agree it will be more interesting to see what Amazon does with it’s user data to take some of that market.

    • Call it, “the grapes are sour” approach, I too am waiting to watch some serious competition to Google’s monopoly probably because of the fact that Google is going out of reach for small business owners like me.. 🙂

  • Although it says that users will get the option to opt out of ads, I doubt that is actually what will happen. Or if that is an option, it will be hard to locate.

    • Can’t agree any lesser. I too don’t think that they would want to take that route, looking at the amount of viewers they might lose because of that.

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