Atlas Solutions Acquisition Discussed During Facebook’s 1Q Earnings Call

By David Cohen 

Measurement was a key topic discussed by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg during the social network’s first-quarter earnings call Wednesday, and the company’s plans for Atlas Solutions, which it acquired from Microsoft in February, were front and center.

Sandberg said of Atlas during the earnings call:

Atlas is a really important part of continuing to develop our measurement capabilities. For the past decade, digital marketers have primarily measured success by focusing only on clicks. But this oversimplifies how people make purchase decisions, both offline and online, because it ignores everything people do and see before they do that last press. Smart marketers are looking for a better way to value all of the impressions that they buy and engage, thus leading up to purchase.

We believe the Atlas platform will help us demonstrate even more clearly the connection between ad impressions and purchases. We could help marketers measure the effectiveness of their ad impressions better not just on Facebook, but across the entire Internet. This means we can take the advancements we have made in measurements on Facebook, including our integrations with Nielsen and Datalogix, and expand them to a much larger audience and to many more purchases.

Later, in response to a question from Barclays Capital Analyst Anthony DiClemente, Sandberg added:

Our focus with Atlas is on impression based ads. And the idea is that historically, with a lot of ads online that were more based on search, the attribution was always that last click. And as people have looked more holistically at all of the ad spending they are doing, what they find is that it’s not just the last click that matters, but it’s all of the impressions leading up to that click. Importantly, we also drive sales offline. And offline people aren’t clicking through the purchase at all, but they are actually walking into a store. So in some sense, there is no last click.

And so our focus with Atlas is to take that technology and enable us to improve our ability to connect ad impressions to purchase behavior both offline and online, and not just on clicks, but across different ad purchases people do. So that’s exactly why we made that purchase.

Evercore Partners Analyst Ken Sena touched upon rumblings when Facebook’s interest in Atlas first emerged that Facebook was eyeing an external ad network, to which Sandberg replied:

Our main focus with Atlas is our own measurement — being able to measure Facebook ads all the way through to purchase, and then to compare those on an apples-to-apples basis with other ad purchases you make not on Facebook, is really important to drive marketer engagement with us, and that’s our focus. We have no plans for launching that network.

Readers: Do you think Facebook will be able to achieve its goals with its acquisition of Atlas?