Digital Marketing Developments

Facebooks digital advertising platform Atlas impacts large and small businesses alike

We are drawing to the end of the first week since Atlas, Facebook’s new Ad platform was formally released, after its year-long redevelopment.  Digital marketing agencies like Orbital are still digesting the impact Atlas has on the industry at large and assessing its future application for existing clients.

You may not have heard of Facebook’s Atlas, but we think its launch this week is a significant historical marker for digital marketing and online advertising, which has been years in the making.

In this blog we will introduce the system, set the context of Facebook launching Atlas. Finally we’ll wrap up what this means for businesses and the future of digital marketing and online advertising.

Ultimately Atlas is a new advertising platform launched by Facebook to compete with Google's ability to run adverts on publishers and blogs around the Internet. Before, you could advertise on Facebook, but with Atlas you can advertise on Facebook, Instagram and a large number of partner websites.


What the Atlas team say about the benefits of this new system; 

  • A single dashboard allows you to create adverts, then deliver, measure and report online display advertising campaigns all in one place.


  • You can now advertise to real people rather than individually identified computers/ devices.
  • Advertise effectively across all devices (e.g. desktop computers, iphones, tablet computers) and platforms (e.g. websites, mobile applications).


  • Atlas is a separate entity to Facebook, but can send adverts to the social network and it’s sister network Instagram as well as other advertising partners.
  • Omnicom is the first to sign an agency-wide Ad service and measurement partnership with the platform and will be rolling out trials soon.


What does this mean for digital marketing and why is it important?

Advertising across all devices is perhaps the key selling point for Atlas, since it's considered a re-imagining of how online advertising should work and is a new technical system for delivering advertising online.

You may have heard of the term “cookies”, but if not, they are small files, automatically placed on computers to measure a website visitor’s behaviour. Unfortunately Cookies don’t work on mobile phones. This is a major problem given that close to a third of all Internet access is via mobile, which is increasing at around 30% a year (see below).


Google has long been able to make a fortune from online advertising ($50.5bn in 2013) using it’s massive display network and currently holds a wapping 31% total share of the online advertising marketing compared to Facebook’s 8%. Unfortunately Google’s display network relies on the humble Cookie to target and measure advertising. This is becoming increasingly redundant, so we’d expect Google to launch something similar to Atlas within a year.

The problem with Cookies (and Google advertising by inference) increasingly is that its unable to do the job properly. They undervalue the number of times people see an advert and view each device as an individual, rather than the human. As consumers we average using 3 Internet enabled devices each, so reliably advertising to humans and the end results is becoming hazy (it’s important to note that all advertising metrics have their pitfalls and are never 100%).

Facebook’s widely used mobile phone application has enabled Facebook to gain ground in the mobile advertising space and increase their overall advertising reach.

 “Backed by rich data from real people, only Atlas gives advertisers the insights to drive advertising success.”

Source:  Atlas Blog (

Yet Facebook has been doing something even more fundamental – collecting data. Lots of data. With 1.3 billion Facebook users all clicking “Like”, plus 150 million from Instagram also owned by Facebook, plus connecting with websites via Facebook’s Connect application (See the below image of how you can sign up to the Guardian online via Facebook, which shares what you read with the social network). All of this has built up a detailed picture of the online behaviours of hundreds of millions of people. 

For digital marketers this means Atlas is poised at dominating the fast-growing mobile advertising market. They can improve the relevance of their advertising using Facebook’s massive amounts of data, which is in real demand from digital marketers and attracts a premium. Finally, as a collective they have access to a huge section of the Internet to enable Atlas to compete with Google’s massive 90%+ global reach of Internet users.

 What we say:

Don’t get too excited yet.  Small or even medium sized businesses are not likely to be able to use Atlas immediately, as the system is rolled out and initially tested at scale by larger players like Pepsi and Intel. Think 1- 2 years from now.

The move to audience centric targeting from using cookies is a natural extension of Facebook collecting all it’s users interests and behaviours on the social network. Soon Cookies are going to be a thing of the past and the advertising you’ll see will be closely matched to your specific set of

Anti-advertising technology like Adblock Plus, is an Internet browser plugin that has already been set to block Atlas’ adverts before any have been produced. No advertising can guaranteed full reach and accuracy.

It is crucial to be prepared for the idea of real-time marketing optimisation, where campaigns can be adjusted based on creative and budget on the fly to give advertisers of all sizes full control of their digital marketing budgets

Data has become the battleground for the advertising industry. All businesses must ensure they have web analytics capabilities and have them setup to ensure they can measure the results of any digital marketing/ advertising through to sale or lead.

If you need help to ensure your analytics are in ship shape ready for this new era in digital advertising then feel free to give us a shout to have chat, review or just to get some specific pointers. Alistair [a.t]