SHIFT is among the first Facebook marketing partners to integrate with the newly rebuilt Atlas ad platform. CEO James Borow said the company's customers will soon be able to leverage Facebook's data within SHIFT's new platform to reach people in mobile apps outside of Facebook-owned mobile apps.
“The inventory is not just locked within the walls of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn,” he said. “We’re now serving ads within a mobile display environment, which is outside the walls of the Facebook application.”
SHIFT’s updated platform includes a re-engineered user interface for its dashboard that lets marketers set rules and triggers to govern campaigns. It leverages intelligence built on Atlas’ data, Borow said, in addition to first- and third-party data.
Other updates include an interface to manage campaigns across networks and enhanced data reporting capabilities and visuals.
“This is what the next generation of ad platforms will look like,” said Borow. “We target real individuals, not just cookies, and we can reach our customers across any device, if they’re checking Facebook or Twitter, or if they’re inside an application like Angry Birds. It’s a massive step forward for advertisers.”
SHIFT employs around 100 people, and its customers include brands like AT&T, American Express and Unilever. The company has raised about $14 million and is headquartered in Los Angeles, with an overseas office in London.
WPP media agency MEC uses SHIFT’s software for a number of its clients to power social media buys across several platforms. And though MEC’s North America head of social, Noah Mallin, said he sees the potential in SHIFT’s alliance with Atlas, MEC has yet to fully leverage Atlas.
“SHIFT works very hard, from my experience, to be as integrated as possible with the platforms that they partner with,” Mallin said. “Atlas is a great example of that, because they’ve been one of the first out of the gate with this kind of integration.”
He added, “The idea is that we’ll really be able to have cross-device attribution in a way that’s been pretty difficult to get to up until now. But our partnership with SHIFT has allowed us to plan a lot earlier, and to be up and running when the ability to use Atlas in new ways becomes possible. It’s given us a real leg up.”
Working with SHIFT, MEC has been able to reach highly targeted audiences and to spend considerably less in doing so, according to Mallin. Though he declined to name a specific client, he said MEC had used SHIFT’s platform to cut CPAs in half.
Mallin said SHIFT’s product was particularly useful for a client needing intensive PR work or to engage audiences with targeted branded messages.
But the biggest challenge for leveraging social isn’t necessarily the software or on the targeting side, he said. The larger hurdle is marrying targeting with creative insights.
“You can have the best targeting in the world, but if you’re not reaching people on a gut level, they’re going to pass over you on the news feed,” he said. “SHIFT has allowed us to not only come back with targeting insights, but to also come back with creative insights to dynamically optimize to the best performers.”
Borow claimed SHIFT’s updates will eventually let marketers leverage Atlas’ measurement capabilities and ditch the cookie-based targeting of traditional display.
“In the past you could not reliably run an ad campaign that you could attribute across devices, or impact the decision that takes place offline,” Borow said. “Because Atlas is orienting things around people, they can help clients put together the entire story through data. It’s shepherding in an entirely new way to think about advertising.”
“That type of transparency is revolutionary in terms of digital advertising,” he added. “It’s going to usher in a lot more trust. We look at it at how advertising should have always worked.”
Salesforce is SHIFT’s closest competition in North America, Borow said, as Social.com, a key component to the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, also offers marketers an advertising platform to reach customers across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Atlas. Borow added that SHIFT and Salesforce are the only two companies in the US that support all four integrations.
SHIFT’s updated platform is still in beta and, for the time being, is available to a select number of SHIFT’s customers.