More Agencies For Atlas: Facebook Signs Merkle, Plugs Into Mediaocean

MerkFive months after taking the wraps off its revamped ad management product, Facebook is slowly but steadily chalking up new Atlas customers.

In the wake of its splashy deals with Omnicom Group and Havas, the company has unveiled agreements with database marketer Merkle and Mediaocean, the dominant provider of RFP and workflow management software geared to agencies.

Following a long period of customer attrition, when Atlas’s key agency users shrank to just one (Razorfish), the wins validate Facebook’s “people-based marketing” approach to tracking and serving ads to logged-in users across devices.

Merkle has begun migrating an unspecified number of clients over to Atlas. Metlife, one large Merkle brand client, is one example, AdExchanger learned in an earlier interview.

Despite these early tests, Merkle says its embrace of Atlas is not an all or nothing thing.

“Every project we do is a hybrid,” said Megan Pagliuca, Merkle’s GM and VP of digital media, when asked if Merkle manages DFA/Atlas campaigns concurrently. “We’re not moving clients 100% to Atlas until there’s more testing around it. Moving ad servers is a big deal, and it’s germane to [how you track] and run all your media, so it’s not something any client would go into lightly.”

Pagliuca has vocalized the value of the third-party ad server in the past. Google and Facebook both sell media and operate their own ad servers, and each has the ability to forego cookies and deterministically match devices to people based on logged-in user IDs.

Although it’s early days for Facebook’s ad server, there are some improvements partners would like to see.

“There’s mobile tracking right now, not mobile ad serving,” Pagliuca said, adding that universal tagging functionality and search/display integrations were new features. “They’re playing catch-up in some areas, but I think it was the right call to completely throw away the old Atlas and focus on rebuilding it around Facebook identity data.”

For Mediaocean, plugging into Atlas is about preparing the ground for future agency adoption of a promising product – not serving current demand. (“Their market share is pretty low,” CEO Bill Wise said.)

“When we first met with the Facebook people around Atlas, we realized that they had built some additional functionality that would require a custom integration that wasn’t necessarily the standard ad-serving API,” Wise said. “Facebook has built some cool features around people-based marketing, people-based reporting and cross-device functionality. A lot of those things weren’t part of the standard Prisma working set.”

Erik Johnson, head of Atlas at Facebook, says the company is selling into both agencies and advertisers – and that the sales cycle varies dramatically in length depending on the client.

“Inbound volume shows support and interest in the platform,” Johnson told AdExchanger. “We’re training the market on what people-based marketing is.”

Kelly Liyakasa contributed.


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