Facebook's Atlas purchase could be a sign that 'dark side' is winning

By Brendan Coyne | 7 March 2013
Australia pays more than double than the US in Facebook CPC.

Facebook's purchase of Atlas could be a sign that “the worst part of industry is winning”, according to Mindshare's chief digital officer.

Facebook maintains that the reported $100m deal for Microsoft's Atlas is to measure what influence it is having on advertisers' results. But industry still thinks it is about serving ads and tucking in to Google's meat and drink.

The official line holds water, says Nick Gill, Marin Software MD for Australia and New Zealand.  “Atlas gives Facebook visibility that it can use to show advertisers how its influence can be quantified. The more value advertisers can track, the more advertisers can bid for an ad placement.”

But Gill concedes that the other theory, that the deal is all about serving ads, is prevalent within the market. Stressing that his view is conjecture, Ciaran Norris, chief digital officer at Mindshare, said that if Facebook took that route, it would “massively scale its ability to drive revenue.” However, that approach could be seen as a retrograde step at the behest of Wall Street paymasters.

“It's a sign of Facebook's [digital advertising] seriousness and that Microsoft are terrible at buying businesses.”, Norris told AdNews. After buying Atlas as part of a $6bn deal in 2007, the latter has apparently decided that there is “decided that there is no point trying to keep up with Google”, he suggested.

However, following the implementation of log-out ads and autoplay, an adserver purchase may not be the most innovative approach, said Norris.

“You could argue that the worst part of industry is winning. The last thing anybody wants to talk about is clicks,” he said. “Nobody ever asked an outdoor planner how many clicks they drove.”

That begged the question where Facebook might be headed next. “Personally I'm hoping for innovation. Something that isn't so ... normal.”

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