As Facebook continues to rake in advertising dollars, a Finnish start-up has arrived in Australia to help marketers spend that money more easily.

Smartly.io, a VC-backed Facebook advertising optimisation and automation SaaS platform, opened an office in Sydney this month after closing a $20 million funding round in September.

The company, headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, manages more than $1 billion of Facebook advertising spend globally and has been working with Australian clients like The Iconic from its Singapore office since early 2016.


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The Sydney office will be managed by Head of ANZ Marta Bonzanini, along with ANZ Customers Lead Matti Junila. The company is looking to hire locally, starting with a Technical Account Manager position.

Smartly.io CEO and founder Kristo Ovaska says sees a lot of potential in the ANZ region.

“The Australian market is one of the most advanced in Asia Pacific, with larger advertisers taking advantage of the sophisticated solutions that Facebook and Instagram offer,” Ovaska said.

Which-50 asked Smartly.io marketer Krista Kauppinen why a company would use the Smartly.io platform rather than just buying from Facebook directly. The answer: scale.

“Facebook’s self-service tools are great for advertisers running campaigns with smaller budgets or less complexity, but advertisers with high-volume spend, huge and/or frequently updating product catalogues and broad audience segments reach the limits of the native tools,” she said.

Smartly.io’s tools automatically creates ads and videos from product images, as well as optimising performance of campaigns on top of Facebook’s capabilities. It also offers third party integrations for tracking, business intelligence and CRM systems, Kauppinen said.

Smartly.io is also a Facebook Marketing Partner, which gets them early access to new features before they become widely available to advertisers.

The Iconic started working with Smartly.io last year to support its extensive digital marketing activity on Facebook and Instagram to drive sales growth across web and app.

“As an ecommerce business, effective digital marketing at scale is important to our success and Smartly.io enables us to get the maximum return on our investment,” says Prasad Shringarpure, Head of Online Marketing at The Iconic.

“Smartly.io’s platform allows us to build, manage, optimise and report on complex campaigns very easily. Their team has always been friendly, proactive and able to respond to our needs with the agility that we require.”

The company mostly works directly with advertisers, around 30 per cent of the spend on the platform comes from agencies.

Facebook Advertising Trends 

Facebook’s ad revenue was up 49 per cent $10.14 billion for the quarter ended September 30. The average price per ad increased 35 per cent during the quarter and the number of ad impressions served increased 10 per cent, driven primarily by Feed ads on Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook CFO David Wehner put the prices increased down to improved targeted capabilities and auction dynamics – “as supply growth has slowed, then there’s more competition and you’re seeing prices increase as demand continues to grow,” Wehner said, during the company’s most recent earnings call.

Kauppinen didn’t make any predictions regarding Facebook ad spend growth, but sees “a lot of potential there.”

“A big driver of Facebook’s success have been their targeting capabilities, which seem to continue to outpace other social media platforms,” she said.

In terms of trends in Facebook advertising, expect to see more video ads, the growth of Instagram Stories and more “non digital native” advertisers like retailer and financial services  moving marketing budgets to Facebook, Kauppinen said.

“Another interesting trend is the combination of feed-based advertising and the newer, more visual Facebook ad formats like Carousel, Canvas and Collection that are a way to create a personalised ‘digital storefront’ for window shopping on Facebook.”

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