Building Towards Value with Atlas

by: Dave Jakubowski, Head of Ad Tech, Facebook

Marketing pioneer John Wanamaker once famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” Despite the promises of the past two decades, digital still faces the same issue.

Through Atlas and the people-based layer that powers it, we’ve been able to identify and measure where most waste comes from: exchanges and banners.

We realized this by testing out a buying platform in Atlas last year. During that test, we plugged into a number of the usual exchanges and bought across several formats. There were two major takeaways:

  1. We were able to deliver ads to real people with unprecedented accuracy, but came up against many bad ads and fraud (like bots). While we were fortunately able to root out the bad actors and only buy quality ads, we were amazed by the volume of valueless inventory.
  2. Only two ad formats delivered significant value: native & video.

Based on those findings, we began to dig into the ads that came through LiveRail. And when we saw the same thing, we immediately shut off the low quality ads. In fact, we removed over 75% of the volume coming from our exchange by turning off publishers circulating bad inventory into LiveRail. We knew that in good conscience, we couldn’t sell what Atlas and our people-based measurement told us was valueless. Unfortunately, those ads were almost certainly dumped into another low-quality exchange where all of them were most likely purchased.

This eye-opening experiment left us with a decision: Do we bury quality (which is industry-prevalent), or do we focus solely on building a product in our mission to help marketers deliver and measure true business value? We chose the latter. Value is the better and longer-term view.

That decision allowed us to look even closer at where true business value comes from. In addition to native and video, we found that a growing percentage came from mobile. Global digital ad spend tells the same story.

Atlas_Infographics_USMobileAdSpending_1.0Source: eMarketer, Sep 2015

However, many marketers still choose to deliver and measure their ad campaigns using desktop-first tools that are not built for a cross-device world — and they’ve got the wasted spend to show for it.

With Atlas, which is built for cross-everything ad serving and measurement, we can help every marketer see where their “Wanamaker waste” lives. And today we’re announcing several product updates to help them in that pursuit.

New Tools for Delivering Value

As every retailer knows, the majority of purchases still happen in-store. Without a clear understanding of how digital ads drive offline sales, marketers have struggled to truly understand the growth opportunities with digital media.


That’s why we have developed Offline Actions, a measurement tool that ties offline sales to online ad spend and ensures digital investments get the credit they deserve. Advertisers who measure their ads with Atlas can now upload their point-of-sale (POS) data and understand within minutes if their online ads are influencing offline purchases.

“We’re pleased to see conversions being matched in Atlas through Offline Actions. We are able to see the connections between what is happening online and in our stores, and there’s a clear correlation between digital advertising and store conversions.” — Matthew Ebbert, CRM and Analytics Manager, The Land of Nod



We’re also working with advertisers on Path to Conversion (by device reporting) to provide insight into all the ways real people — not cookies — see ads across multiple devices before making a conversion. Other path to conversion solutions rely on cookie-based reporting, but Atlas is based on real people – which allows advertisers to see the real path across desktop, tablet and mobile prior to online conversion. Path to Conversion (by device reporting) is now available to all customers.



We’re also announcing Video Ad Serving, which makes it easier to tell vivid brand stories to real people and measure value across devices, all within the Atlas platform. The rapid growth of digital video, combined with evolving consumption habits across devices, makes this one of the most valuable formats in a marketer’s toolkit. Video Ad Serving will be broadly available by the end of March.

Recent success stories from major clients represent how cross-everything insights help marketers better understand true business value from their media:

KLM: Proving the True Value of Mobile

    • The European air carrier uncovered 24% more conversions using Atlas’ people-based measurement instead of cookies alone;
    • While only 5% of campaign conversions happened on mobile (similar to most retailers), Atlas discovered that at least one mobile ad factored in 25% of all digital purchase paths;
    • Read the full success story here.

MINI: Understanding Cross-Device for the First Time

    • The automaker and its Australian digital agency MobeSeek used Atlas to measure cross-device ad engagement;
    • Atlas found that 30% of all conversion journeys started on desktop but converted on mobile, an insight cookie-based measurement would’ve missed;
    • Read the full success story here.

Banque Populaire: Measuring Performance Across Publishers

    • France’s second-largest bank and its media agency ZenithOptimedia used Atlas to measure several campaigns simultaneously across devices and publishers;
    • While impressions skewed to desktop over mobile (58% vs. 42%), Atlas’ people-based measurement attributed 75% of cross-device conversions to people whose last ad exposure happened on mobile;
    • Atlas found that media buys for these campaigns delivered just 48% on-target. Banque Populaire and ZenithOptimedia planned publisher investment adjustments as a result of this discovery;
    • Read the full success story here.

We think today’s announcements are a step forward: we know there is still more progress to be made in helping marketers extract the most value from digital. We’re committed to helping them achieve their business goals and deliver the most relevant and effective ads to people.