Facebook rolled out a massive new ad platform this week called “Atlas,” which, for the first time, will harness the social media giant’s vast collection of user data by tracking users from their desktops to their mobiles and sell targeted ads across the Internet.
Atlas will amp Facebook’s ad platform — which uses to cookies to track where users venture online in order to target them with ads on Facebook.com — by extending the social media giant’s ad reach across the web, meaning users will now see Facebook’s ads on other websites and on their smartphones.
Facebook will also try to keep track of users’ product-purchases they were targeted for in ads.
Google — the industry leader in targeted advertising — has for years employed a similar system, which it expanded earlier this year to include systems designed to track users’ purchases in physical stores as well. (RELATED: Google Can Now Follow You From The Computer To The Store)
To employ Atlas, Facebook is actually harnessing Google Android and Apple mobile features known as “advertising identifiers,” which allow Facebook to tie users’ desktop activity and their mobile activity. (RELATED: Google Android’s ‘Active Watching’ Patent Will Try To Photograph, Record, Identify Everyone In A Room)
Facebook will attempt to track in-store physical purchases as well, but claims it will not intentionally hand over personally identifiable information to advertisers. Instead, companies will give the social network lists of named purchasers, and Facebook will match the names against users’ data and provide companies with a percentage of users who purchased products they were targeted for through ads.
“Facebook says it never discloses the identity of individuals to marketers,” The New York Times reports, “and that any matching of, say, Pepsi’s own database of its fans to Facebook’s data is done on a blind basis.”
As The Verge points out, Facebook’s move into the deeper ad market could be the start of a shakeup for industry leader Google, as Facebook undoubtedly knows more personal information about its users than Google. It could also mean that sharing users’ identities with advertisers might not be far into the future.
“Facebook might someday decide to give away more data for the sake of company growth,” The Verge reports. “And, while Facebook isn’t actually sharing more about you with advertisers today, it might do so someday.”