Clickable’s $12M Series C Led by American Express Will Fund Facebook Ads API Development

Facebook Ads API partner Clickable today announced the closing of a $12 million Series C round of funding led by distribution partner American Express. Clickable develops a licensable tool and offers a managed spend service for search and social advertisers.

The money will in part fund further development of its Facebook Ads API tool and service. However, the company isn’t ruling out the possibility of joining the trend of acquisitions between the Facebook Ads API and Page managements industries, according to Clickable’s VP of Marketing Max Kalehoff.

Founded in 2006, the New York-based company had previously taken $22.5 million in funding from Union Square Ventures, FirstMark Capital, Peter Thiel, and Founders Fund. American Express is one of it distribution partners, white-labelling its products and pushing them to its small business clients.

Clickable integrated Facebook ad buying capabilities into its product and services in mid-2010. When we reviewed its Ads API offering in February 2011 it was still lacking some core features, including automatic bid optimization and high-scale ad variant creation for A/B testing. We concluded the product had a good foundation but needed time to mature.

Since then, Kalehoff tells me Clickable has been “steadily releasing Facebook enhancements including bid auto-optimization. It’s starting to get to a critical mass where we we feel it’s pretty compelling compared to when we launched in beta”.

The funding will help accelerate this development cycle and help it keep up with Facebook’s rapid release of API changes and new ad performance data — something that can be difficult for Ads API players coming from the relatively stable search marketing industry. “The funding will go towards product and market development and social is a huge part of that” says Kalehoff.

With $12 million in the bank, Clickable could also acquire a Page management company, the way Efficient Frontier bought Context Optional. Companies with both Ads API and Page management companies can help clients leverage traditional ads and Facebook’s Sponsored Stories ads to drive earned viral media.

Kalehoff  says “There’s absolutely no question that we recognize the value of integrating all the Facebook marketing APIs (include Pages and Insights). We’re building in that direction”.

However, it could take half a year to develop a full- fledged Page publishing tool, tab app suite, and Page analytics.With several solid but small Page management tools available as acquisition targets, it might be more efficient to brather than build while other Ads API companies who already acquired or partnered with Page management companies get ahead.

Along with improving the improving the Clickable product, the investment could give American Express more control of the product’s future. The financial services company has been using Facebook to attract new clients through its Small Business Saturday promotions, by providing free or discounted Facebook ad credits.

American Express could use the investment to push Clickable to focus more on serving its small business partners, something the Ads API tool’s lack of a minimum spending requirement already permits. In this way, American Express could provide merchants with a Facebook ads tool tailored to their needs and through which they could start spending with their American Express small business account.