Following months of speculation, Facebook is reportedly about ready to unveil a new advertising platform, which builds on its acquisition of Atlas last year. The relaunch of Atlas -- which is expected sometime next week -- is part of a broader effort by Facebook to challenge Google and AOL on the ad-serving technology front.
The new ad network will help marketers track ad impressions on Facebook, as well as third-party Web sites and apps, according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal.
As The Information reported in August, the platform is also expected to feature a demand-side platform (DSP), which will allow marketers to target ads to Facebook users across the Web.
Since buying the ad management and measurement unit from Microsoft last year, Facebook has been quietly nurturing Atlas through additional investment and partnerships.
Earlier this year, the Atlas team announced two partnerships -- one with rich media platform Flite, and another with video ad platform provider Innovid. The addition of Innovid's ad platform was expected to make static video ads more engaging, while making that engagement easier to measure in terms of awareness and time spent.
Per the pacts, billing was also integrated, which was expected to save brands some paperwork. At its essence, the partnership was expected to result in new efficiencies for clients, Erik Johnson, head of Atlas at Facebook, said at the time.
More recently, Facebook refreshed Atlas’s look and formed an insights team dedicated to understanding and addressing the challenges in measuring ad performance.
Also, Facebook recently acquired LiveRail -- a video advertising supply-side platform (SSP). LiveRail helps publishers serve better video ads, while ensuring that marketers find quality placement for their ads. In May, LiveRail reached 37.2% of the U.S. population -- better than AOL (35%) and Google (34.1%), but still behind BrightRoll (51.3%) and Specific Media (44.4%), according to comScore.
The LiveRail deal followed Facebook's first foray into “audience-buying” with the launch of FAN, the Facebook Audience Network.
Industry insiders said the deal made sense for Facebook. “First with FAN and now with this move, Facebook is demonstrating that its user data can be a powerful key to expanding its business outside its own platform to help drive advertising dollars -- potentially from TV in this case -- to the digital market,” said Neal Modi, vice president of revenue and operations at brand advertising platform Kargo.