Choosing which platform to use for your digital marketing needs is always tricky. Recently, we went through this process ourselves when deciding on a 3rd-party platform for Facebook. In this post, Robert Jurewicz—our Paid Social Lead—explains our thought process behind the decision and how we eventually came to partner with Smartly.

A few months back we decided to partner up with Smartly, one of the leading Facebook Marketing Partners. Currently, with the market swarming with different third-party platforms built on the Facebook API’s, we wanted to share some of our reasoning in why we went with Smartly over other solutions. There are quite a few decisions to make along the way, and in order to help others who are making these decisions, we will try to outline the major decisions we had to make along the way and what the major pros and cons are.

Specialized vs Non-Specialized Marketing Platforms

The first major decision when choosing marketing platforms, in both the agency and in-house case, is to consider to go with an all-in-one type solution, or to choose multiple specialized platforms which cover one or two marketing platforms at most. 

For us the decision here was quite simple. We believe that custom-built tools and highly specialized technology, along with specialists who can use those tools, is the optimal combination for success in digital marketing. This is why we have a history of developing our own tech, from simple sheet tools to larger internal platforms made for our particular needs. As a consequence of that it is natural for a company such as Precis to go with a highly specialized platform like Smartly that excels in its niche. 

The pros & cons here are fairly self-evident, as generally speaking the tradeoff is between having one-platform-for-all, or the best tool for each platform – with all the extra complexity in terms of specialization of the workforce that entails.

Difference between machine learning and AI:
If it is written in Python, it’s probably machine learning
If it is written in PowerPoint, it’s probably AI
– Matt Velloso

The second big step in the decision tree is the degree to which you want control vs. automation. At face value, that statement may sound silly, who doesn’t want automation? The issue is that a lot of companies that offer a high degree of automation often do so at the cost of transparency. In essence, building a black-box-button which says “optimize”, trading the ability for the user to tweak parameters for “ease-of-use”. 

Without picking on anyone in particular there are a number of companies who claim to have advanced AI that does everything for you, and the above quote from Matt Velloso seems dead on all too often.

The sometimes unfortunate packaging of platforms using buzzwords like AI or blockchain becomes an issue when account managers aren’t very technical and you have to spend time during the sales process to uncover what is actually hiding behind the scenes.

This is an area in which Smartly is great to deal with. They are transparent about which features use machine learning and to what degree, even sharing their math publicly

Furthermore, Smartly does offer a very high degree of automation. It’s not just plug-and-play, you have to configure it so to speak, tweak the details and apply some thinking and skills in order to maximize the results you get out of it. This is perfectly in alignment with our belief in the union of specialized people and advanced technology. Which brings us neatly to my next point; culture at Smartly.

Technology is only as good as the people who use it

Any technology, no matter how sophisticated, is only as good as its user. That means that educational resources, documentation etc. become very important when considering advertising platforms. We are lucky at Precis to have a very high talent-density which means that with sufficient resources, we are confident that our teams can implement and execute tools that aren’t simply plug and play. 

Using Smartly, our teams are able to independently—with minimal support—plan and execute advanced Facebook strategies such as:

  • Weather targeting.
  • Third-party bidding.
  • Hyperlocal campaigns with dynamic creatives.

In the end, we chose to go with Smartly because of our fundamental belief in that great advertising is achieved using the best tools combined with the best people. When considering different choices, Smartly was the platform that could best enable our teams to execute on all the great ideas they come up with, in a short time-span, while still leaving room for optimization.

Robert Jurewicz Paid Social Lead