Bloomberg News

Zuckerberg Deal With Microsoft Wins Antitrust Approval

March 29, 2013

A transaction involving Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc. (FB:US), and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT:US)’s advertising business won approval from U.S. antitrust authorities

Facebook said on Feb. 28 it would acquire Atlas Advertiser Suite, adding measurement tools that help it step up competition with Google Inc. for online-display advertisements. All transactions of more than $70.9 million by law must be reported to antitrust regulators for review. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today announced the deal was approved without identifying the nature of the transaction.

Facebook, owner of the world’s largest social-networking service, is seeking to accelerate revenue, which is projected by analysts to slow for a fourth straight year in 2013. Atlas will help in challenging Google, which gained ad-serving technology in its $3.24 billion purchase of DoubleClick in 2008. Google (GOOG:US) will have 18 percent of the U.S. display-ad market in 2013, compared with Facebook’s 15 percent, according to EMarketer Inc.

The team from Atlas will remain in Seattle, where the business is based, Menlo Park, California-based Facebook said when it announced the deal.

Atlas tools help companies choose and place ads on websites and monitor their effectiveness.

Ad Campaign

With Atlas, Facebook will be able to gauge how an ad campaign is performing on its own service and on other sites around the Web, Brian Boland, director of monetization product marketing, said in an interview at the time. Using that data, the company can help advertisers craft better marketing campaigns, including on its own service.

The deal is part of Microsoft’s effort to unwind the unsuccessful $6.3 billion 2007 purchase of AQuantive Inc., which developed Atlas. Microsoft wrote down almost the entire value of the deal last year.

Microsoft has focused more attention on building search- based advertising, at the expense of the graphical-display ad business that includes Atlas and the AQuantive assets. Still, Microsoft wants to ensure that Mountain View, California-based Google has competition. That made Facebook, a Google rival and Microsoft partner, an attractive choice for a buyer.

As part of the deal, Microsoft will remain a user of Atlas, said Dave O’Hara, chief financial officer for the Redmond, Washington-based company’s online services division.

“We thought they had a good vision of where they want to go,” O’Hara said. “We’re still a very large presence in the online advertising business and will be for many, many years.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Fred Strasser in Washington at fstrasser@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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  • FB
    (Facebook Inc)
    • $74.76 USD
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  • MSFT
    (Microsoft Corp)
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