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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Facebook Buys Service to Show Targeted Ads Across the Web

Facebook fired another salvo at its archrival Google on Thursday with its acquisition of an advertising technology that can help Facebook put its piles of personal data to greater use for behaviorally targeted advertising.

Facebook bought the advertising platform in question, called Atlas Advertiser Suite, from Microsoft. The acquisition, long speculated, was announced on Thursday afternoon, though the terms of the deal were not specified. It further solidifies the social network’s partnership with Microsoft; Facebook offers users Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, for Web searches on its site.

The acquisition allows Facebook to use the vast amounts of personal information it has about its billion users to send them targeted messages as they browse the Web. It potentially allows Facebook to increase advertising revenue, its chief source of income, and not just when its users log into Facebook.

“If marketers and agencies can get a holistic view of campaign performance, they will be ale to do a much better job of making sure the right messages get in front of the right people at the right time,” Brian Boland, the company’s director of product marketing, wrote in a blog post.

Marketers were delighted by the news. “Targeting and retargeting ads based on users’ social habits and behaviors will indeed give marketers another valuable tool to add to their overall digital marketing mix,” Andrew Bloom, a vice president of the advertising agency  DG, said in an e-mailed statement.

It is likely to please Wall Street, too, which is hungry for Facebook to increase profits faster.

How consumers will react is another matter. Facebook has long argued that targeted advertisements are more “relevant” to users.