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Facebook to acquire ad tools from Microsoft

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook is buying a set of online advertising tools called Atlas from Microsoft in its latest attempt to build a more effective marketing system around its social network.

In making the deal announced Thursday, Facebook is betting the acquired technology will be more fruitful under new ownership than it was during the past 5½ years under Microsoft’s control. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

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Atlas is part of an online advertising service called aQuantive, which Microsoft Corp. bought for $6.3 billion in 2007. AQquantive didn’t bring in as much online ad revenue as Microsoft envisioned, prompting the software maker to absorb a $6.2 billion charge last year that resulted in its first quarterly loss in its 26-year history as a public company.

Given the magnitude of that writedown, Facebook probably didn’t have to pay much to take Atlas off Microsoft’s hands. The undisclosed purchase price is a sign that the amount isn’t substantial enough to leave a big dent in the company’s finances.

Atlas provides monitoring tools that help advertisers assess how their online marketing tools are faring. It helps marketers make adjustments needed to connect people more likely to buy their products.

Atlas could help Facebook do a better job of using its knowledge about more than 1 billion users to place ads on sites that tether their services to Facebook’s social network, according to Forrester Research analyst Nate Elliott.

‘‘The question now is how quickly and successfully Facebook can integrate its data with Atlas’ tools, and whether they can avoid a privacy backlash as they do so,’’ Elliott wrote Thursday in a blog post.

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