Facebook is planning to announce its long-rumored acquisition of Microsoft's Atlas Solutions division tomorrow, according to two people briefed on the plans. Ad Age reported earlier this month that the deal was imminent. Like all announcements, there is the chance for a delay, but all parties are planning to make the deal public tomorrow.
While the ad-tech world still debates the main reason for the deal - is it about Facebook proving that advertiser conversions can be attributed to its ads or about Atlas' ad-serving tech helping to build a Facebook ad network around the web? (answer: probably a bit of both) - Microsoft already indirectly made its pitch to Facebook publicly...in a blog post seven months ago.
"Through Atlas's Click Purchase Path Analysis, [advertisers] can glean insights into where Facebook advertising dwells as an introducer, influencer, or closer across each unique click path, essentially creating a virtual representation of the digital conversion funnel," read the blog post, written by Sanjay Vasdev, a senior market analyst at Microsoft, according to LinkedIn.
What Mr. Vasdev is essentially saying is that one of Atlas' analytics tools lets advertisers track what impact a Facebook ad has on a given conversion - whether that conversion is submitting an email address to a marketer or completing an online purchase. In short, Atlas has tools that can give insight into what kind of credit Facebook should get for a given ad.
In the post, he also talks about using Atlas tools to help advertisers determine what percentage of web users its reaching with a web-wide ad campaign are only found on Facebook.
"Accurate measurement will help draw conclusions on the quality of audiences delivered at scale," the post reads. "Marketers will be better informed on the synergistic aspects of Facebook advertising, gain better understanding of its reach and overlap, and aid the movement of marketing budgets to appropriate sources."
Atlas started letting its advertisers use these tools to measure Facebook ads in 2012, and it's possible that Facebook may make these tools available to all Facebook advertisers after the deal closes. Facebook and Microsoft spokesmen declined to comment.