During today’s keynote at HubSpot’s annual INBOUND marketing event, the company announced that its ad-campaign management and optimization platform is now available as an add-on for current customers. HubSpot is launching the beta product with Google AdWords and LinkedIn as key partners.

Why it’s significant

The announcement continues a trend toward DIY marketing automation, data-wrangling, and customer intelligence-gathering – and the new feature set gives small businesses, in particular, a chance to up their customer-acquisition game by cutting out more expensive third-party tools. Dharmesh Shah, cofounder and CTO of HubSpot told me in an email, “We’ve seen customers of all sizes get value out of our ads tool. Whether you are a small business trying to figure out ads for the first time or a larger company that wants to refine a focus on ROI, our new Ads Add-On helps our customers master ads fast — without years of experience creating and optimizing campaigns. We think that Ads can be better, more inbound, and we want to help make that happen.”

Paid search ads and native social ads have become increasingly important to marketers’ overall strategy, especially for small businesses competing in hyper-local markets. Ads amplify content, and content is king for any business.

This new feature set is particularly interesting in that it’s part of a broader suite, and is a simple add-on for current HubSpot customers. There’s potentially seamless connection to the company’s other offerings — CRM, email marketing, SEO, landing pages — and it’s designed with the small business marketer in mind. This means no separate data management platform — it’s all contained — and it’s affordable and seems simple to use.

While Dharmesh admitted they didn’t build the platform to be a “hyper-sophisticated cross-channel bid-management platform — one that determines appropriate spend across platforms and then executes the buy,” the company thinks what they came up with is more-than-adequate to serve small business customers.

I’m inclined to agree. Customers can build customized audience segments and create workflows based on how people interact with their ads. The tool appears to rely on a last-click attribution model, a relative blight on the industry — but because HubSpot also has the contact data for all of the leads, there’s less data lost in the shuffle and the attribution is potentially more reliable.

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How it works

  1. Campaign Creation: Customers can build campaigns for specific audiences right in HubSpot. Since each ad network has its own rules and best practices, HubSpot simplifies the process by integrating those specifications into their tool. This lowers the bar for the skills necessary to execute campaigns and saves time. The tool also brings your existing social and landing page data from HubSpot into ads, simplifying creation.                                     LinkedIn Create - Targeting (1)
  2. Conversion Optimization: Knowing how many leads or customers an ad generates is table stakes for executing a successful campaign. By combining paid data with HubSpot customer data, marketers get access to this data quickly and easily. They automatically report conversions and ROI for every ad and keyword, so you don’t have to implement custom tracking variables manually.

Ads ROI Dashboard

While the initial beta launch focuses on LinkedIn and Google as primary partners, one has to imagine the potential for partnership with Facebook and other significant ad networks in future, which would be a huge win for the company as it increases the depth and breadth of its offerings for small business marketers.