9 Clouds’ new software navigates the world of Facebook advertising for the auto industry

Creating successful, targeted Facebook ads is an ever-evolving art, and Sioux Falls-based marketing agency 9 Clouds has built itself a successful niche by helping players in one industry—auto dealers—to navigate it.

Founder Scott Meyer says one of the secrets to 9 Clouds’ success has been staying focused on the company’s original vision while remaining agile to change.

Meyer started 9 Clouds nine years ago with his brother John, who now runs the infographic design company Lemonly, with the goal of teaching people how to make use the Internet for marketing. The Meyers kick-started the company by submitting a business plan to a competition and winning.

“We became an agency by accident,” Meyer said, but 9 Clouds has had enough success as an agency that they recently introduced their own software.

Once they became a marketing agency, 9 Clouds had particular success helping car dealers find and create web advertising solutions, and they made the decision, as a team, to focus their efforts into that area.

“They were interested in becoming masters of one,” Meyer said.

John and Scott’s original, education-focused idea of teaching people how to use the internet is still important to 9 Clouds’ strategy, and for its goal to be a transparent and positive force within its industry.

“We really try to demystify digital marketing,” Meyer said.

To that end company posts blog posts and ebooks to their website that teach about the work they do and provide users with helpful tips about content marketing best practices and navigating the world of advertising online. Meyer likes this educational bent, which both provides a genuinely useful service and indirectly markets 9 Clouds by showing off a little bit of the team’s expertise within their field.

“We mostly educate and then people come back to us,” Meyer said.

9 Clouds’ new software product, Cumulus, operates by tapping into car dealers’ inventory feeds and generating Facebook ads based on what they have in stock. These ads can be targeted to specific audiences on Facebook based on their preferences and demographic information, in order to ensure the ads generated get seen by the people most likely to buy a particular vehicle.

Cumulus took a roughly year-long journey to its release on the market, per Meyer—six months of developing the software, and another six months using it in-house before deciding it was ready to share with clients. The 9 Clouds team is focused on selling Cumulus to other agencies in particular. They have about 60 users for the software now, and they are shooting for about 300 by the end of the year.

9 Clouds is a boutique agency that doesn’t add tons of clients each month, and they strive to give each new client a high level of attention.

“We want to feel good about what we do,” Meyer said.

One of the challenges 9 Clouds faces in the future is finding and maintaining a balance between agency and product.

“We want to maintain a smaller agency and continue to grow new products out of that,” Meyer said.