In the world of online advertising, cookies play a huge role. I wish I could say I was talking about those of the chocolate chip variety, but I’m talking about tracking cookies, or the small tags of code that are dropped across the web in order to track users’ browsing history, ultimately providing more relevant ads that appeal to their needs and interests.
I know, the world of online advertising would be a whole lot better if chocolate chip cookies were somehow involved. But that doesn’t seem to be where the future of cookies is heading. In fact, tracking cookies may be a thing of the past with Facebook’s re-launch of Atlas, their ad network, on Monday.
How It All Began
Microsoft owned Atlas Advertising Suite until Facebook acquired it for about $100 million in 2013. Since then, everyone’s been wondering what will come of the acquisition. As of Monday, the wait is over.
Facebook gained a massive amount of clients from this deal and will be able to compete with the Google Display Network.
Like all other ad platforms, Atlas allows its users to create ad campaigns and track and measure their impact. But Facebook has said the user interface has been totally rewritten.
Erik Johnson, head of Atlas, wrote in a blog post on Atlas’ website: “Targeting and measurement capabilities are built-in, and cross-device marketing is easy with new ways of evaluating media performance centered on people for reporting and measurement.”
This information will allow advertisers the insight to make better choices as far as optimization of ad campaigns and budgets go.
So why is Atlas such a big deal?
What Makes It Unique
The connection that Atlas now shares with Facebook sets it apart from other advertising platforms.
Atlas is also unique in that it has cross-device capability, and can be used on mobile devices, in addition to computers. Although cookies can’t function on mobile, Facebook seems to have developed a solution to that problem (more on this in a minute).
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably craving a cookie and wondering where all of the other kind of cookies fit into this picture.
The Elimination of the Cookie
I’ll cut right to the chase: Facebook launching an advertising platform has some huge implications for the world of online advertising, one of them being the possibility of replacing tracking cookies with Facebook IDs (sorry, still no chocolate chips).
Facebook IDs would have a pretty massive impact on the world of online advertising. Using them instead of cookies would allow tracking across any device that supports Facebook, from your mobile phone, to your laptop, to your gaming console with web browsing. Cookies can’t do that.
This allows for what Johnson calls “people based marketing.”
This is pretty cool for advertisers because they’ll be able to get a clearer, more consistent picture of users’ browsing history.
The tracking cookies that are used today are already a small text file with a unique ID, but the difference between cookies and a Facebook ID is that a Facebook ID is not anonymous.
That’s right, with the implementation of Facebook IDs, anonymous web browsing might be a thing of the past.
Personal Information Galore
We’re talking about a social network being in control of an advertising network. Anyone with a Facebook account is already (hopefully) aware of how much information it holds about its users. From the movies we watch to the YouTube videos we post, Facebook knows about it.
This gives Facebook a lot more information on users than any other advertising platform has. Cookies that track users’ internet browsing habits being replaced by Facebook IDs give advertisers a lot more targeting options. This will let them serve ads that are more relevant to users, improving the chances the ads will lead to new customers.
It also gives users the unique opportunity to tell Atlas what kind of ads they want by modifying their published likes and interests.
What It Means for Google
Although there are a whole lot of different ad platforms out there, Atlas’ biggest competition is definitely Google’s DoubleClick and AdWords (you can read more about AdWords here).
Facebook claims that Atlas’ ads will be more accurately targeted than Google’s DoubleClick ads. This isn’t hard to believe considering Atlas ads will be delivered based on users’ Facebook likes and interests.
However, Google remains the most popular search engine and you can be sure that they will serve up a DoubleClick or AdWord ad over an Atlas ad any day. So even though Atlas’ ads might be more accurately targeted, Google still has the “popular” advantage.
With the new Atlas only being only a few days old, we’ll have to wait and see how it will fully impact the world of online advertising and marketing. Until then, sit back, grab some chocolate chip cookies, and stay tuned.
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