Facebook’s Atlas is attempting to edge out Google

18.11.2014 Fabian Rendon

Watch out Google, Facebook is on the counter. You couldn’t say I was especially impressed by Facebook’s latest advertising announcement –Facebook Audience Network for mobile app promotion but last week had a more impressive launch take place, or should I call it relaunch.

The Atlas re-launch during Advertising Week is on a whole other playing field when it comes to exciting news. Although it seems Facebook is overstressing the need for an ad server that doesn’t rely on browser history and cookies, Facebook has pretty much hit the point with digital marketing keywords like systematic buying and cross-platform promotion.

It looks as though Google’s DoubleClick enterprise is finally under siege from a worthy adversary.

Facebook and Google are the top twoin the $140 billion digital advertising market and Google has three times the market share that Facebook has. The social networking giant has been closing the gap by making strides in the $30 billion mobile sector.

Both companies make most of their revenue by selling its own ad inventory, Google has a big business in ad networks though and exchanges for placing ads on other publishers’ sites, making it better poised to hold its position in the ad revenue race. Facebook is a newbie and although they have only dipped their toe into ad networks, and its exchange is wrongly worded– FBX. It connects Facebook inventory with ad networks via demand-side buying platforms (DSPs), but you can’t call it a network like the one Google has. Facebook is poising agencies and data partners to make this work outside its own closed environment.

To get back to the case, Atlas is a well formed ad server and Facebook is going out of its way in promoting Atlas’s unique abilities to help advertisers target audiences as they move across content and apps on multiple mediums. Facebook is playing its identity management card against cookies and this could be a major bonus in growing Atlas. Google’s targeting is almost completely based on cookies and search relevance, and mobile phones don’t generate cookies the way desktop does and this browsing history gets muddled across users, desktops, and devices. I mostly search for places to eat and see on my phone, whereas I do all of my work related and extra curricular research on my desktop machine. When it comes to authentication services, it’s easy to see which of the two come out on top.

Facebook’s “user-based” marketing pitch is exaggerated. Many useful ads are sold via context based and behavior related targeting. Search and behaviors are far more representative of online shopping intent than authenticated demographics and clicks such as +1’s, likes an deven comments.

Google makes most of its money off search, keeping their services mostly at the free entry level but it could be said that advertiser and agency interest in Atlas is a real threat to the core of its display ad networks.

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