Facebook Shifts Atlas, Focuses On Better Integrations, Metrics

Facebook is “winding down” the ad-serving portion of Atlas, the social giant announced on Friday.

For those clients that relay on Atlas for ad serving, Erik Johnson, head of Atlas, said his team plans to provide transitional support over the next few months.

“We believe Atlas will have a greater impact and create more value for advertisers by focusing on measurement,” Johnson explained in a blog post. Among other factors, Johnson attributed the decision to the industry’s ongoing shift to mobile, and more ads being served by publishers themselves rather than third parties.

The shift for Atlas has been rumored since September, but the announcement is poorly timed, considering that Facebook copped to additional ad-metric inaccuracies this week.

“We think that collectively these items will impact growth by a couple of percentage points over the next year,” Brian Wieser, a senior analyst at Pivotal, explains in a new note to investors. “Google is likely to be a beneficiary on the margins.”

“Giving up on the strategic foothold of ad serving and campaign management is to us a significant retrenchment, if one that will have a very limited impact financially,” Wieser added. “For advertisers and agencies that were working with Atlas as an ad server, the news will be disruptive.”

Going forward, Johnson said he and his team are focused on creating better integrations between Atlas and Facebook’s measurement platforms.

Back in March, Facebook walked back plans to build a demand-side platform into Atlas. It had been testing an automated buying platform within its ad server and measurement platform since last year.

The move follows Facebook’s decision to shut down the ad-server portion of LiveRail at the beginning of the year. At the time, the company said it would continue to focus on LiveRail’s automated sales of publishers’ in-app mobile video sales and native display ads.

Under the Atlas banner, Facebook is also rolling out Offline Actions -- a new measurement tool that ties offline sales to online ad spend.

Advertisers that measure their ads with Atlas can now upload their point-of-sale (POS) data, and confirm whether their online ads are influencing offline purchases in near real-time.

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