By Don Mathis, Kinetic Social CEO
I was speaking to an investor in one of the Facebook PMD players last year, and he told me that his portfolio company was “going to be the Atlas of Social Media.” My response was that Facebook already was the Atlas of social (at least, of its own social media). Now, it is also the Atlas of Atlas … which means, of the open display & mobile web.
It is a brilliant transaction if Facebook executes well.
Here is what Sanjay Vasdev of Microsoft wrote in a blog post: “Through Atlas’s Click Purchase Path Analysis, [advertisers] can glean insights into where Facebook advertising dwells as an introducer, influencer, or closer across each unique click path, essentially creating a virtual representation of the digital conversion funnel.”
He added: “Accurate measurement will help draw conclusions on the quality of audiences delivered at scale. Marketers will be better informed on the synergistic aspects of Facebook advertising, gain better understanding of its reach and overlap, and aid the movement of marketing budgets to appropriate sources.”
See a great Zach Rodgers / AdExchanger interview with FB’s Ads Product Director Gokul Rajaram discussing the transaction in greater detail here.
What does it mean? From our perspective at my company Kinetic, it is one more mile marker on the path to digital media ad convergence … and it is a step in the right direction for the entire ecosystem. The objective for major brands is increasingly to seek cross-platform integration, because dollar for dollar, a campaign integrated across media channels with a well-balanced (and data-driven) mix provides the best bang for that buck. Measuring the effectiveness of cross-platform integration is today’s challenge; Facebook just made it a little easier, and the Atlas deal will pave the way for brands to accelerate the shift to integrated campaigns.
It also reflects, I believe, a deeper philosophy of Facebook: they don’t seek to be a glorified publisher with social bells and whistles as some believe and as the Street sometimes appears to want. I believe Mark Zuckerberg has a bigger vision: to be the infrastructure and architecture of the global social digital experience. They’ll leave the actual trading of the ad units to their partners.
What does the Atlas transaction mean for the Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer community? If you are a PMD and you do smart media buying / analytics in Facebook and across platforms (social, display, mobile, etc.), Facebook just became a more effective distribution partner for you and your clients. I wrote about Facebook’s continuing effort to improve its ad experience for its users here and here. And full disclosure: my company Kinetic is a PMD badge holder.
HOWEVER … if your goal is to try to become yet one more intermediary layer focused on adding measurement or analysis of other people’s buying and optimization, you should be thinking hard about your next pivot. In the display world of fragmented inventory, there might be a need for an intermediary layer or two that interprets the chaos. There might (might) be a long-term value proposition for an ecosystem with programatic buyers (e.g., trading desks, DMPs); an aggregator of inventory like an exchange, and/or even an SSO aggregating across multiple sources; and of course the supply itself, i.e. publishers.
But in social? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc. ARE the aggregators. WE – as in, everyone with an active profile – are the publishers. So the opportunity for the PMD community is to be a demand-side player, a trading desk for social and integrated campaigns, helping plug our clients into this ecosystem … not to be yet another intermediary layer adding an unnecessary tolling fee to the ad transaction.
Don Mathis is the CEO and Co-Founder of Kinetic Social, a company launched in 2011 with a core focus of marrying “Big Data” to social media on behalf of large brand advertisers. He also serves in the active reserve of the US Navy, where he is the Commanding Officer of a highly deployable, selectively staffed, joint-service combat logistics unit that supports forward deployed war-fighters.