Digital Marketing

How To Leverage Facebook Atlas In Your Media Buys

6 min read

Back to Articles

After years of anticipation, Christmas has come early for businesses in 2015, as Facebook opens Facebook Atlas to a more and more clients. Atlas is Facebook’s solution to marketers, when it comes to leveraging Facebook data on media buys off of Facebook and also solving the never ending issue of ad attribution issue.

For the past several years, online marketing heavily relied on cookies (website code) to track and measure conversions from media ads. While a simple method to implement, the information gathered was not always reliable and didn’t work with mobile apps.

As the digital marketing ecosystem continues to grow and innovate, Facebook intends to get rid of the cookie and replace it with some much more powerful and accurate which is what Facebook refers to as “PEOPLE BASED TRACKING”.

Facebook Atlas.

What is Facebook Atlas?

In a nutshell, Facebook Atlas is an ad-server that allows businesses to buy media, target users, optimize ads and leverage Facebook data to buy media on display and other non facebook ad platforms. Atlas is a standalone server and works on several other social media networks and websites outside of Facebook.

Facebook Atlas

Purpose of An Ad Server

First off, what is an ad server and how do advertisers leverage ad servers?

The whole purpose of your own an ad server is to be able to serve a wide variety of ad types on publishers web sites either direct or through a third party ad platform like Google Content Network.

Secondly an ad server allows you to reach specific user demographics who visit these web sites i.e. men 25-40.

Third, you use an ad server for tracking. Advertisers want to see which banner ad led to a conversion either now or in the future. This is referred to in the advertiser world as “attribution”. Facebook Atlas solves a lot of these attribution issues mainly due to the quality of Facebook’s data.

How Atlas differs from other ad servers

The biggest difference between Atlas and other ad servers like DoubleClick or TradeDesk is that Atlas doesn’t serve ads to prospects based on cookies.

If they don’t use cookies, how are they tracking prospects? Atlas serves ads based on prospects’ actual identity through their Facebook ID.

Atlas automatically pairs a user’s Facebook ID with their mobile or desktop device and stores it on a central database. The next time the user visits a website that users the Atlas ad server, Atlas links the user’s device to their Facebook ID and serves them the appropriate ad.

Atlas is able to collect data on which devices prospects respond to best and other useful information to plot your marketing strategy moving forward. This data can help you understand which type of content is most effective on which devices at various stages on the buying process.

Using cookies only provides a 59% success rate in tracking prospects and while a useful tool, it’s quickly becoming outdated and cumbersome. If you’re buying media units on Facebook, Bing and Yahoo, you could potentially place 3 cookies on one prospect’s browser and if they convert, all 3 platforms award themselves with the conversion.

1 sale but 3 conversions? Highly confusing.

You’ll also be able leverage Facebook’s Audience Network of 1.4 billion users outside of Facebook with Atlas. All the data Facebook has on its own users, their demographics, behavioral patterns, interests, device types can be leveraged outside of Facebook on third party websites and for the first time ever, mobile applications.

Facebook Atlas also allows you to create your own re-marketing audiences through it and be able to serve display ads directly to your re-marketing audience without having to go through a third party like AdRoll or Criteo.

Tracking offline sales with Atlas

Since 94% of all sales are made offline, it would be useful for you to know whether prospects who viewed your online media went in-store and purchased. For years already you were able to upload customer lists and phone numbers onto Facebook to create custom audiences, but Atlas has taken things one step further.

Atlas can match a customer’s email address or phone number to their personal Facebook profile, and reveal if they were exposed to any of your media within a specific time frame from the date of purchase.

Online marketing does contribute to a lot offline conversions, with Atlas these conversions can finally be tracked.

Irrelevant ads a thing of the past

One of the biggest problems businesses face is serving their prospects irrelevant ads. While they may know who they want to target, their needs and past purchases are sometimes oblivious to them. For example, it’s not uncommon for businesses to serve ads to customers who have already bought the product they are advertising, with 37% of consumers annoyed that ads are not personalized to their needs.

Atlas pairs a user’s device with their Facebook profile, allowing them to serve targeted and relevant ads and having previous purchasing information to avoid serving irrelevant media, saving businesses money and ensuring they don’t upset their customers.

How MuteSix leverages Atlas to help solve the attribution problem

As I discussed in our Facebook Conversion Attribution post, there are many issues with Facebook’s current conversion attribution model. The problem at the moment is that two or more platforms can possibly award themselves a conversion even if they played no involvement in the final action.

Atlas tracks prospects conversion path’s to the last ad they saw before they converted. We are able to see this data in Atlas by pulling specific conversion reports. The goal here is to see which sets of ad led to the conversion. Having this data, is in valuable to not only optimization but also furthermore seeing which placements led to the conversion. With this data, we can then double down on those placements. We can also see basic demographic data on users who both convert and click as well.

For example, if a prospect views your ad on Facebook, then is exposed to an Atlas ad later on a website, and the day after directly visits your website and makes a purchase, Atlas will be able to track and show you their entire journey.

This journey cannot be followed using cookies.


Facebook Atlas is not available for small businesses and is currently being used by agencies like us and well known brands such as Intel and Pepsi. The ultimate goal of Facebook Atlas is to provide businesses with greater intel on consumer’s behavior, which will in turn lowers their gross customer acquisition cost while also providing more accurate and relevant metrics to plot future campaigns.

Whereas currently you may be using a number of platforms to buy media units, a single conversion can be awarded to two or more media units. Atlas is a centralized sever that works across a number of platforms giving you the same reach, with accurate data on what’s actually contributing to conversions.

Brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Live Nation have already had great success with Atlas and learned more about buying behaviors than before was possible.

If you’d like to know more about Facebook Atlas – get in touch with us today.

Interested in Working Together?

Let’s Get Started