Confirming suspicions, Facebook has just announced that it will buy Atlas Solutions from Microsoft. Atlas is an ad platform that Microsoft tucked away in 2007 when it gobbled up aQuantive. We reached out to Facebook about the terms of the deal, but the social network is playing coy for now. Earlier this month, AdAge reported that the long-rumored deal would be for under $100 million.
Microsoft's ad division lost nearly $2 billion between 2011 and 2012, so it's no surprise that the company was eager to offload Atlas and gain back a little of what it lost in the aQuantive acquisition.
Under Facebook's wing, Atlas will directly compete against Google's AdSense, which serves targeted ads to users as they thumb through the web. Google knows a lot about its users, but Facebook has a different knowledge base.
Facebook is uniquely positioned to leverage the massive amount it knows about its more than a billion users. Its intimate knowledge of users' Likes and interests could pay off big in razor-sharp ad targeting.
It should be interesting to see how Atlas will expand Facebook's ad revenue well beyond its own gated walls.
Image by ReadWrite