Confirming December's rumors of a Facebook-Microsoft advertising deal, a report by Ad Age indicates Facebook may buy Microsoft's Atlas ad network as soon as next week. An impending deal would not be surprising; after all, Facebook and Microsoft have been cozy with each other for many years. However, let us not forget: this still lives in rumorville with only vague information from "multiple sources familiar with the matter".
Microsoft's network, Atlas Solutions, is the fruit of a $6 billion acquisition of aQuantative. The FTC approved the deal in 2007, just after green-lighting a controversial Google-DoubleClick deal earlier that year valued at $3.1 billion.
The cost of the acquisition remains a question mark, but Ad Age notes that previous bids topped out around $50 million. For this reason, it's expected that Microsoft's advertising network will sell for less than $100 million -- a paltry sum for Facebook, who is valued at billions upon billions of dollars.
Having end-to-end control over its own ad network is an obvious win for the social networking company. For a website who accounts for eight percent of all page views on the Internet, Facebook stands to save substantial money by eliminating middlemen where it can. More interestingly though, Facebook has the opportunity to craft its own ad technology -- possibly something to eventually rival Internet ad-king Google.
Armed with its enormous Social Graph and its extensive knowledge of its own proprietary internal workings, Facebook seems like an ideal playground to roll-out and fine-tune a hugely successful ad network. The company's recent endeavors into its own search technology may also prove syngeristic with Microsoft's Atlas advertising stack, being that it was designed with search in mind.