The advertising industry
got a taste of how Facebook plans to use technology from Atlas, an advertising suite acquired from Microsoft in 2013. The social site is running small tests with a few advertisers and publishers to
serve Facebook ads in third-party mobile apps.
One analyst believes it could become a more relevant ad network than Yahoo and AOL, and compete more directly with Google and Twitter.
While Google takes the title of being the largest online advertising platform -- partly due to the strength and relevance of AdSense -- Robert W. Baird analyst Colin Sebastian believes Facebook is positioned to create a similar infrastructure, given the increasing importance of mobile. He sees Facebook's tests as a way to expand into serving ads across the Web.
"A Facebook user with an expressed interest in aerobics might see an ad displayed on a news site for a sports drink," Sebastian writes. "Importantly, Facebook generates limited revenues today outside of its own sites, which understates the company's potential in the $15-20 billion display ad market."
In this test, Sebastian writes, Facebook will use its "treasure trove of user data and targeting capabilities to improve the relevancy of ads."
The move gives Facebook the opportunity to track clicks and conversions from the app to online without the use of browser cookies. It also will increase the ability for the site to capitalize on intent signals, similar to search engine marketing campaigns.
"While we have run similar tests in the past, this current test is more like a mobile ad network in that we are working directly with a small number of advertisers and publishers, rather than an outside ad-serving platform," Sriram Krishnan wrote in a blog post Wednesday.
Rob Creekmore, head of analytics at Facebook, in December hinted to MediaPost Search Insider Summit attendees that the social site has big plans for Atlas advertising suite.