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Facebook Opens User Data to Marketers to Serve Ads on Sites Across Web

It will offer advertisers Facebook data to help them target customers, and also track whether the ads lead to sales.

Facebook is offering marketers a new service that will place ads all over the Web -- not just the social network -- and give them Facebook data to help them target customers across devices. The service will also track whether the ads lead to sales.

It's Facebook's push to become a web-wide ad platform like Google, through a relaunch of the "Atlas" network that Facebook bought from Microsoft for an undisclosed sum in February 2013. The new methods are designed to address the fact that desktop ad-tracking "cookies" don't offer demographic information like age or gender, don't work on mobile and can't follow users across web browsers or devices, Erik Johnson, the head of Atlas, said in a blog post. Atlas, he wrote, is dedicated to "targeting, serving and measuring across devices" -- with the data users share on Facebook served up as the icing on the cake.

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- Julianne Pepitone