Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.Mariana Bazo/ReutersFacebook is launching a new tool called Advanced Measurement that lets advertisers stack up how their Facebook campaigns performed compared with other platforms. The launch comes at a time when advertisers are highly critical of the platform's measurement offering, after Facebook made some high-profile metrics errors. The roll out of Advanced Measurement marks the end of the Atlas ad tech brand that Facebook acquired from Microsoft in 2013.
Facebook announced Tuesday it is rolling out a service called "Advanced Measurement" to all advertisers — not just its biggest spenders — that will allow them to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns across Facebook's properties versus how they performed on competitor sites and apps.
Advertisers can soon use Advanced Measurement to assess which platforms — such as Facebook, Instagram, search, or display ads on Google — drove the most purchases on their online store, or had the highest reach among their desired target audience.
The launch comes at a time when platforms like Facebook and Google are under heightened pressure from advertisers to improve their measurement systems and ensure they are properly audited by third parties. The two are often accused of being "walled gardens" that "mark their own homework" because they do not allow third-party measurement firms and auditing firms access to as much of their data as other online media owners do. In its defense, Facebook says letting third-parties have open access to all its data could pose a serious risk to the security of the information that users trust it with.
Those measurement criticisms were amplified after Facebook admitted, on four separate occasions in recent months, to making a number of errors that both over-counted and under-counted its measurement metrics.
For example, Marc Pritchard, the chief marketing officer of the biggest ad spender in the world, Procter & Gamble, said while he had been encouraged by the two ad giants recently saying they would let the Media Rating Council audit some of their ad metrics, that was "not enough" and he would only be satisfied when those intentions were turned into actions.
"We've been more than patient because we made these requests nearly a year ago. So we need urgent completion, because then we can get to the more important work of understanding the value we're getting,” Pritchard said in a speech at the Association for National Advertisers media conference in Florida earlier this month.
Speaking to Business Insider, Facebook product marketing director for measurement Scott Shapiro said the company has made a serious effort to increase the amount of partnerships it has in place with third-party measurement firms. Advertisers using Advanced Measurement can also get access to attribution data from firms like comScore and Visual IQ, for example.
Shapiro said: "Our goal is not to [mark our own homework]. Our goal is to offer marketers the tools to make their own decisions. A lot of the measurement we do does not say Facebook is the best place [for your advertising campaigns]. Our goal is to be able to learn and improve what marketers are doing."
But Shapiro added that Facebook won't be using the data from Advanced Measurement to optimize the advertising on its own platforms to be more competitive with rivals.
"We don't use any of the data we collect from across other publishers to do any optimization on Facebook. It just displays measurement results," Shapiro said.
The Advanced Measurement tool will be available to advertisers via the Business Manager section of the Facebook site. It uses technology from the Atlas ad server and measurement platform Facebook acquired from Microsoft in 2013.
It works by using a measurement tag to track users as they cross around the web and apps and from one device to another. Facebook users often log into the platform using different devices, so the tool has reliable first-party data about whether people who saw an ad for a product on one device checked it out on another. It also claims to offer advertisers a more accurate measure about the reach of their campaigns because it can rule out duplicates — users who may have seen an ad multiple times across different devices.RIP Atlas
The news marks the final chapter of Facebook's Atlas brand.
Facebook's acquisition of Atlas was initially viewed by industry observers as a way Facebook could use its vast repository of people-based data to challenge Google DoubleClick's monopoly of the display advertising business. Facebook was even working on a demand-side platform — software that helps advertisers buy online ads at scale using automated systems — but it pulled the project in March 2016, blaming the quality of inventory on the open web.
In September last year, Business Insider first reported that Facebook was shifting Atlas out of its ad tech group and into its measurement division. In November 2016, Facebook announced it was winding down the ad server that sat within the division so it now only offers advertisers a measurement tag.
Business Insider was shown a test version of the new "advanced measurement" capability, and the user experience made no mention of the Atlas brand, although its technology still lives on in the product.
Enterprise customers who were already using Atlas will be the first to get access to Advanced Measurement, which was previously priced on a CPM (cost-per-mille — a cost per thousand impressions).
As for pricing for Advanced Measurement, Shapiro said: "We haven't worked out the pricing model yet. All the testing going on [for Advanced Measurement at the moment] is not priced: the objective for us is to demonstrate the value and really understand what we can offer marketers."