Atlas has long been a subject of sale talks, as Microsoft seeks a natural home for the platform it once viewed as an answer to Google's acquisition of DoubleClick. Turn, AppNexus and others have sniffed around, but the deals never panned out. Their mutual alliance against Google is one of the most convenient aspects of this transaction between Microsoft and Facebook.
Microsoft communications director Tom Phillips shared this statement on the sale:
"We needed to sharpen our focus and concentrate on identifying, building and executing on the things that are core to our vision for the future as our entire company transitions to a devices and services model. The continued investment in third party ad serving technology like Atlas, while important, is less of a strategic pillar for our business than it once was."
Did Facebook buy Atlas for customers? Facebook says yes, in part, but AdExchanger hears Atlas has only two substantial customers: AT&T and Razorfish.
Rajaram answered a few additional questions:
Do you want marketers to use Facebook as the hub for all online advertising, and eventually offline as well?
You're right. Atlas is already a digital campaign management platform. We do continue to want to invest in that. We want to make sure Atlas has a really comprehensive solution for being able to measure, track and manage your campaign.
Why not build this? Why buy it?
Two things. Atlas already has expertise in this. So this is a fairly complex ecosystem, it's a fairly complex technology stack. It's a fairly complex product. There's a lot of domain expertise. We feel the Atlas product already has a lot of experience, both around understanding customer needs around technology. Second, they already have a fairly large ad server, used by a number of clients and agencies out there.
Will Facebook launch an ad network?
We are focused on measurement at this point.
[The goal] is basically to improve the measurement capabilities to help marketers to understand the impact of their spend on Facebook. We have enough on our plate to execute on and build.
Will you go after only large advertiser and agency clients? Might you offer a free product for smaller guys?
We don't know what direction the product is going to take. We want to invest in the product. We want to make the product better.