A couple months ago, rumors were heavily circulating that Facebook was preparing to buy the Atlas ad platform from Microsoft, which picked it up in its acquisition of aQuantive in 2007. Today, Ad Age is reporting that such a deal could transpire as soon as next week.
Reporter Jason Del Rey cites multiple people familiar with the matter, and says the price is unknown, but expected to be under $100 million.
"Facebook is methodically laying the groundwork for an off-Facebook ad network powered by social data, but that's not the only reason it wants Atlas," Del Rey writes. "Facebook is very focused on proving the worth of the data it sits on as well as the effectiveness of its ads. Owning an ad server would allow big advertisers and agencies to connect directly to Facebook to better measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. Now, most advertisers use one of the many Facebook ads API partners, third parties that connect to Facebook's display tools and exchange."
If this deal goes through, it would be just the latest in a string of major announcements in the online advertising industry. Google announced a major upgrade (though not everyone sees it as such) to AdWords, and Yahoo announced a new deal with Google on contextual ads.
Facebook itself also just launched the Lookalike Audiences targeting feature for advertisers.