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New-er Kid on the Block: Facebook Revamps Atlas

As announced earlier this week, Atlas, which was acquired by Facebook back in 2013 from Microsoft, has been rebuilt to now offer DSP (demand side platform) capabilities in addition to ad serving. This integration makes the updated Atlas stack similar in offering to Google’s Doubleclick Campaign Manager (previously DFA) which provides ad serving capabilities and DSP services through its Doubleclick Bid Manager. With capabilities that now rival that of Google’s Doubleclick stack, but with website coverage that is only about 6% that of Doubleclick, according to Datanyze, it leaves a lot of us weighing the benefits of this new contender.

Atlas vs Doubleclick Market Share

Obviously, it’s a little early to call out a superior stack, but we wanted to outline some of the components we are considering when sizing up these two display partners against each other.

Reach Across Exchanges & Networks

Google’s Display Network is a group of over 2 million publishers and reaches over 90% of internet users across the world according to comScore. In addition to that inventory, DCM tags are widely accepted by most DSP partners for trafficking beyond the Google Display Network. Atlas is actively working to grow their partnerships with this upgrade and is already pairing up with a number of PMDs, video & rich media creative shops, and mobile app publishers. It is also directly tapped into Facebook, the social network users spend the most time on compared to other social media sites. There have been some comments around whether or not Facebook will allow Doubleclick tags to continue to run on the social networking site, and vice versa, but no network-wide bans have been placed.

Tracking & Targeting Methods

With the re-launch of Atlas, the main focus has been on people-based matching instead of the more traditional cookie-matching method utilized by Doubleclick and other DSPs alike. This holds a lot of promise for a world going mobile, where third-party cookies are often not supported. Linking back to the Facebook ID of a user will enable smarter targeting and more accurate attribution for cross-device campaigns. Even though the PII (personally identifiable information) still won’t come through to the advertiser with this cookie-less alternative, it will be able to give them a clearer picture about a user’s demographic characteristics and information about their path to purchase. A logged in Google user ID (used for Gmail, Google+ and the like) could be leveraged similarly in the future, but currently the Doubleclick stack is still focused on using cookies.

Implementation & Versatility

Similar to evaluating each of these platforms' reach, users will want to make sure it’s compatible, not only with outside partners and publishers, but internally. From workflow and campaign management to implementation on the back end of the advertiser’s website, there are many components of an ad server and DSP that make day-to-day execution more seamless but have a lot of technical set up at the start. Both Doubleclick and Atlas have API access available which makes some aspects of integration less painful. It will be important to take a look at the campaign trafficking processes and the flexibility they allow for setting up tests, updating creative and trafficking. As Atlas gains its footing, it will be interesting to watch its impact on a Doubleclick dominated display landscape.
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