Microsoft is out as a heavyweight contender in online advertising – and Facebook continues its efforts to go all in.
That’s the upshot of Microsoft selling Atlas Advertising Suite to Facebook; the widely expected deal was announced Thursday afternoon. The price was undisclosed. But Advertising Age has estimated its value at $30 million to $50 million.
Thus Microsoft completely sheds its costly, ill-fated acquisition of online advertising company aQuantive, of which the Atlas tools were a part. Microsoft snapped up aQuantive for $6.3 billion in 2007, paying more than twice what Google did for rival agency DoubleClick just a few weeks earlier.
Google has since used DoubleClick to heavily influence, if not largely control, online display ads, while Microsoft last year was forced to write down $6.2 billion of the aQuantive deal. Dumping Atlas off on Facebook closes that chapter completely. Tom Phillips, senior director of communications, Microsoft Advertising, says the divestiture does not ” diminish our commitment to online advertising, in either display or search.”
He says back in 2007 Microsoft was racing to “build a single ad technology platform.” But today, the boys from Redmond are “laser focused on building devices and services that we believe will represent the advertising platforms of the future.”
“Five-plus years ago we did not have the stable of mature owned and operated media/screen assets with global reach that we now have,” Phillips says, referring to Xbox/Kinect, Skype, Bing, Windows Phone, MSN and Windows 8 apps. “Our vision has evolved.”
Facebook’s Brian Boland says the social media giant hopes to “improve Atlas’ capabilities by investing in scaling its back-end measurement systems and enhancing its current suite of advertiser tools on desktop and mobile.”
He says to expect improvements in “the user interface and functionality with the goal of making Atlas the most effective, intuitive, and powerful ad serving, management and measurement platform in the industry.”
The Atlas team will work out of Facebook’s Seattle engineering facility.