Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) plus Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT): already a partnership made in heaven for the two, especially through Bing’s social search features that make search a sharable, social networking experience. Now, this relationship is taken a step further, with news of a possible ad deal.
Although the possible Atlas acquisition by Facebook is still in the rumor bin, and both Facebook and Microsoft declined to comment, there are many arguments to support it, especially if we consider that Facebook is the second-visited website in the world, according to Alexa stats; and that the network has access to a wealth of email addresses, home addresses, and phone numbers, plus private information about its users.
Facebook is already serving ads, tiny and annoying, which can only be seen within its own, closed network. With Atlas, Facebook could by tracking user behavior on all partner sites, and extend its ad-network all over the Internet. Facebook could use Atlas to strengthen its position against Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) in the online ad market. Atlas has always been a possible competitor to Google’s own ad-serving product, DoubleClick, which incidentally was acquired by Google in 2008, for over $3 billion.
Microsoft acquired Atlas in 2007, through its $6.3 billion acquisition of aQuantive. The company is now reportedly seeking to sell assets from that deal, and Atlas is one of them. The highest bid, so far, for Atlas, was $30 million, although it was not disclosed who made the offer. There were, however news in October that Microsoft was looking to sell it to AppNexus.