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Facebook: Moving Up the Ad Tech Stack
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Facebook: Moving Up the Ad Tech Stack

There’s certainly no short supply of articles announcing the waning dominance of Facebook as a social media platform. The reality is however, that Facebook remains the largest and arguably the most relevant social media platform today, with a massive, engaged global audience. That Facebook will launch its own Demand Side Platform (DSP) in early 2016 is a clear sign that the company is pushing hard to be the gatekeeper to its own data. 

In many ways the announcement that a DSP is on its way is simply an evolution of what it started when it launched and then refocused its marketing for Atlas. But it also signals Facebook’s intent to move up the advertising stack food chain. To avoid being seen as ‘just’ an ad server Atlas has to bring something new to the market. The soon to be launched DSP is a crucial step in achieving this. 

So far so good, especially if you’re an advertiser. Understanding how Facebook sentiment translates into purchases or influences the customer journey is powerful knowledge. And yet, increasingly we’re seeing publishers such as Facebook, Google, AOL and others close off their inventory to third party ad servers or stacks. In doing so there is an elephant emerging in the room that is getting larger each day. How do you track and combine this data for attribution in order to truly understand your customer and how they interact with your brand and their experience in doing so? And without these insights, how are you supposed to optimise future media spend and reduce budget wastage?


The issue of data silos isn’t a new one—there’s already a challenge in identifying users across devices, not to mention when it comes to incumbent marketing tech vendors and their inability to integrate acquisitions, which leads to the creation of another bolt on to an already unwieldy platform. So far the light has not shone quite so bright on publishers, yet increasingly they are becoming as bad – or worse in some cases – than big proprietary technology providers. 

This makes it very difficult to action attribution data because these platforms don’t talk to each other. What does this have to do with Facebook’s DSP? A lot. If you’re buying via the Facebook DSP, custom audiences can’t be pushed outside of Atlas. And no advertiser can build a campaign on just its Atlas audience. The challenge is that advertisers want to buy custom audiences from Atlas and, say, DoubleClick, but they can’t track audiences across both platforms, which in turn creates blind spots. 

The two most popular kids not wanting to play with each other might sound like playground games but it is a very real reality for advertisers. Rather than growing closer together, the giants of the publishing world are only becoming more territorial about their data and who can access it. This creates a pressing headache. Creative people simply do not have the tools they need to do their job. Instead, they have a lot of data silos that offer limited and uncontextualised insights. 

Whilst Facebook’s DSP might appear like it gives advertisers the ability to measure campaigns with more sophisticated data than they’re able to do so today, the reality is that old problems still persist. If marketers can’t integrate their data logs from different platforms, how can they possibly hope to track marketing effectiveness? After all, if you can’t track it how can you prove it works? 

The Facebook DSP might appear alluring, but advertisers must keep in mind the need to combine data in order to accurately measure advertising performance. 

Barbara Marino

Barbara Marino

Barbara Marino is the Commercial Director at global big data analytics agency, Datalicious. She is based in London and specialises in growing the Datalicious brand​ and business​ in the EMEA market. 

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