CEO, Lightning AI: Using AI to automate advertising on FB & Google. Reinvent growth through data science. Build amazing companies. Constantly be challenged.
In this episode, we talk with Colette of lightening AI and how she was able to spend 500 K in a single day on black Friday. And the first two months of her agency with one of a super, super big e-commerce clients, she's worked with massive brands like Peloton and chatting with brands like Volvo, uh, used to be a head of demand gen and Intercom. So if, um, if there's one gal in media buying that can take you from spending a couple hundred grand a month or 50 grand a day to, to spending a couple million a month, this is the gal
Join the show that day on black Friday, he got to $500,000 in ad spend. And like, they want to spend more, they always want to spend more. That's like the thing that they tell me all the time, they're just like, how do we do more and more and more? Um, and it's, it's incredible, but you know, it really speaks like it speaks to the fact that, um, they, they had it down anyway, right? So like when you're spending 50 K a day, you can't be like, half-ass in your ads. Like they, they had a good flow. Um, so the ads were good. The offer was good. Um, they put out like a special deal for black Friday. They had a special landing page. Um, they actually like had sales reps who would call people if like they wanted any help, like everything was put in place so that they were ready to accept this scale
To the rich and poor ed podcast, where we break down the financial principles that rich advertisers are deploying today to turn advertising into profit and get tons of traffic to their websites without killing their cash. These advertisers agencies, affiliates brands are responsible for managing over a billion dollars a year in ad spend. You'll hear about what's working for them today. They're rich ads and we'll roast their Epic failures and crappy ads on the internet with core ads. Let's get into it. Welcome to another episode of the rich dad. Poor dad podcast is your host sack Johnson. I'm with Mr. Dylan Carpenter. Dylan, are you ready to talk about some black Friday cyber Monday e-comm ads? Oh, we got a big spender. So I think this one's gonna be pretty value packed. Yes, today's guests. I think sets the record for the most amount of money spent on, uh, Facebook ads on a single day, black Friday $500,000 in a single 24 hour periods.
So I'm excited to have her on, she's also the founder co-founder of lightning AI. This is, uh, seeing, um, ad agency as well as advertising technology that has, uh, I think they've collected. They spent over a hundred million dollars in ads bought, I think she's most known for, uh, being the head of user acquisition back at mile IQ, which was like this, um, app that like, if you were like a freelance or a business, it would like track your miles like to work. So like automate the write-offs they had like, they spent a ton on ads and then she was, um, over at demand gen at Intercom. So Colette, welcome to the rich ed pod podcast. Thanks for having me. Yes. So, uh, how much are you think you're managing an ads like this year in 2020? Like come December 31st? Is it you think it's going to be upwards to eight figures?
I think, I think so. What do you think it's gonna be? It'll be close. That's awesome. That's awesome. So for anyone that doesn't know you and how, how awesome you are, uh, you're you're, you're like one of the only, uh, female, like bad-ass media buyers. I knew like back a couple years ago, and now it's exciting to see more females like get into the space of media buying and, um, and so, but F but for the people like on our, uh, our listeners on our show that like might not know what lightening AI is, or your background, how you got here, maybe you could fill them in. Yeah,
Absolutely. So the like very quick version of my background. Um, so he ran user acquisition at mile IQ, which was an app acquired by Microsoft. Uh, and when I got there, we were spending like, I dunno, a million dollars a year, and that seems huge. Um, then we got to Microsoft and they were like, what if we gave you 20 million? Um, so we had to figure out like, what do we do with all of this extra money and how do we make it perform? Uh, and it turned out that that's really, really hard to do as a human. So a few years later, um, I invented this algorithm and AI software that automates the scaling of advertising campaigns by using interest targeting on Facebook. Uh, and so that's, that's what lightening AI is in does. So we automatically build and manage advertising campaigns or interest targeting with the intent of scaling out very large ad spend,
Very large ad spin. I just want to like, emphasize that, right? Like I'm on your site right now. And you've got Peloton on here, which I think they spend like a dollar a day or something like that dollar a day. I think they boost some posts. They got a couple of thousand dollars a year. Maybe. No, I'm just kidding. Yeah, no, they like big, big, big budgets. Right. So how,
I dunno if I can say this, I'm going to tell you guys anyway, we just had a call yesterday with Volvo.
Ooh, Whoa. That's cool. Yes. I love it. So I feel like we go so many different ways with this. Right. We can talk about your days at Intercom and like SAS, which B2B is, is tough. Right? Like my, like queue, it targeted business owners and it was spending eight figures a year on ads. Like there are not many B2B or like freelancer pro-sumer offers out there that's can spend that. Right. Like, let's just like, we could probably list them off. Like Shopify obviously spends a ton. Okay. We have like maybe QuickBooks and Intuit and like Amex and, you know, obviously they've got a ton of brand dollars, but like my, like you went from like a, nobody like, you know, spending 80, a hundred grand a month to spending like some serious budget. So for all the B2B listeners, I feel like you're just giving them hope. Like it is possible to scale
Bigger clients right now is actually bill.com. Uh, and one of the things that we've been kind of going back and forth, working with them on is like, how do we build out a funnel for B2B sauce? Um, so it's been, it's been, there were a few, there were a few rough months, but we're actually like getting, getting purchases now coming from Facebook. So it's, it's possible. Um, and when you're looking to scale, you have to go where the volume is and, you know, just not be on LinkedIn all the time with like $15 CPCs, like on a good day,
On a good day. Uh, wow. Yeah. I, so I want to dive into this, this rich ad campaign. And, uh, I feel like Dylan, Dylan's really excited and, you know, you sent, sent over these ads. So like we can totally dive into that, but then I also, I I'm like itching to get into how you spent so much money
And then we can totally hive Val enough. But with those rich ads in question, they're pretty juicy. And I'm kind of curious, especially with the stock footage. So, you know, when it comes down, so we'd love to dive into an ad that kills it, AKA the rich ad. And thank you for sending those over. And luckily we got some from both price.com for our rich hat and poor ad. So I would love for you to kind of break down this rich ad. I know you mentioned the stock stock photography actually won some kind of really intrigued by this, but go ahead and break it down for us.
Yeah, absolutely. So let's company price.com. Um, so what they do is they, uh, show you different. You like look for products and they show you different prices and where it's in stock and you can buy like refurbished or used or new or whatever. Um, this year their biggest product, uh, their biggest products have been toilet paper and Lysol wipes. So, um, people have been going to their site and like searching for, you know, toilet paper in Lysol wipes. They're looking for where they can buy them online. They don't want to go to a store, which totally makes sense. Um, I will say this is a company that's kind of just getting started. Um, they really just started expanding out their spend, uh, last quarter. So, um, I was hoping it was kind of like more, more of a example. That's, that's helpful, um, more attainable versus like who wants to spend half a million dollars in one day.
Um, so as a lot of companies do, when they're starting out, you know, one of the questions was like, what's going to be the best performing ad. Like how do we drive people actually to this site? Uh, so I, I came in and I did like, whatever, a little like ad audit. And I was looking at this stock photo of Lysol wipes. And I was like, did you guys just like, go into paint and like, right. Lights, all waves on top of this cam, like, it looks terrible. I like, I just like tore into this ad. I was like, this is the worst thing I've ever seen. This is just like awful. There's no way it can perform. We're going to like cut your CPMs in half because this ad is so bad and we're going to make them better. Um, so that was my mentality going in. Right. I'm like, we're going to crush it, no big deal. Uh, so I intro them to one of the designers who I use, who is now actually working for the Biden campaign. So that's, that was like pretty cool. Um, yeah, although it's kind of a bummer, cause she can't work for me anymore, but you know, whatever, like, Oh, it's worth it for, for the cause.
But anyway, so she made these like beautiful animated videos and, you know, she shows like the product and the user journey and, you know, it shows like the price differences and how you can find online. It's like, it's a really pretty ad and they just tanked, like I can't get them to spend money on Facebook. They are just like, not good at all. And this stock photo just crushes it, like non-stop and I, I can't, honestly, I can't explain it, but
Just the time and the place or is it just
Oh, definitely. That had something to do with it. Right? Like the engagement on that ad is crazy.
Oh yeah. I was just reading some of the comments I'm having a good time there. Yeah. I mean, it's the perfect storm with this. I mean, especially the Lysol shoe that's everybody's mean that I and CP, you know, double trouble.
Of ad, you know, what kind of spin do y'all put behind it? What kind of Roaz do you usually see? You know, is it something that kind of just broke you and that kind of you more on the radar for future clientele or customers or did it actually just kill it? Solid ROI?
Yeah. That's a great question. So, um, for them, their goal is so their goal is like breakeven ROI and just, and as much money as possible. So the question isn't so much, like what, what are you doing to maximize growth wise? It's really like, what are you doing? That's going to maximize results so that we can spend more. Um, and I mean, I was ready to like kill this ad, but, um, it just keeps doing better and better. And like now it's been running for like four months. I don't even think Lysol is like out of stock anywhere and it's still doing really well. And I do think part of that is like, you mentioned that the engagement, um, the comments, I think this is such a good example of how like the content in the comments does not matter for the Facebook algorithm. Um, I have people all the time who were like, should we go through the comments and delete the negative ones and blah, blah, blah.
And I'm like, honestly, the best thing that you can do is just respond to those comments and hope that that person continues having like a one-sided conversation about nonsense, like sparks a debate, uh, on the ad, because the more engagement that you have, the better it's going to perform according to Facebook and the lower that your costs are going to be. Um, so we ended up actually, this is, this is, uh, this is a good story. So we ended up, um, the engagement for this ad was really good. And I was like, I wonder if we should just like boost it, like just a standard boost post on Facebook, um, get some more engagement. And then if like, see what happens. And so we did that and it actually ended up making, um, making the engagement admin hire, which made the costs even lower. So that's like a pro tip right there.
So if you have like an ad, that's getting some engagement, um, but not a lot, but you think like, maybe you can get some more, I think we put like $50 behind it. It was basically nothing. And we got like, I dunno, 50, a hundred something likes, it was, it was a ton, but it made a difference in the overall CPM of the ad. So it ended up like making sense monetarily to, to boost it and then, um, to continue running it. So the note there also is like, make sure that you're when you're running the ad, you're using that same post or not like duplicating it because then you lose all the content.
Yeah. That makes total sense. Do that. Do you do that for every single ad? You ever run pretty much how it can add bank turn to is it's enclosed and then do, do put that across the border.
Yeah. So we all, we always try and use posts when we can. Um, there's a few companies who always have like weird things, right? I mean, like, you should know your own tech before you start really doing a lot of marketing. So there's some companies where like UTM dynamic, UTM, it doesn't work well. And so they have to have like specific URL. It's just like a whole URL thing. Um, so for some of them, it's not possible to just like boost to, to promote the post, but whenever you can, um, that's definitely a, uh, a top recommendation is use the same post because then you'll aggregate all the comments, all the engagement and it just makes, it just makes the ad look better. So, um, if you're ever wondering why, like some apps have thousands and thousands of likes and views, that's probably what's happening. It's probably not that they're just running like one ad set and one ad, um, they're just continuing to use the same post across different ad sets
And that's the way to do it. People can hike. Yeah. That's the definition of a rich ad photo. Unreal. I love how it all kind of comes to life. There. It's cool scenarios like this, where it's like, you don't need the professional stuff to really move the needle sometimes. So
Yeah. One of her companies that we work with, they're a finance app and I can not explain this to you at all, but their best ad. Um, I'll ask them permission and see if I can send this over to you guys and you can post this too, but their best ad is like an intern went outside to the Plaza where they had their office and took a picture of like running water and they just put a credit card in front of it. Like he's holding a credit card box, like in front of running water. And that's their number one app.
Speaker 4 (16:16):
I think I've seen that.
That's awesome. Well, you know, we love to talk about failures as embarrassing moments and fortunately we have one from the same brand. So go ahead and segue into this poor ad segment and this video, you know, looks better done. So, I mean, we're curious to kind of hear the context behind it. So go ahead and rip apart this poor ad.
Yeah. So this was the ad that was made by, by my designer. Um, I didn't love it. I think she did such a good job and uh, like really fast too. She made this like in a day, the turnaround was crazy, but, um, she made it, I thought it was really nice. And I was like, what a nice story. This tells it's so well put together and just like tanked, like it not spend, um, like we would have to make a totally new campaign if we wanted to, if we wanted to spend money on this ad, it's just like not saying, uh, and it's spending how that happens, right? Like you just don't know what the algorithm is going to do. Like there's, there's no way to predict it in advance. Um, and one of the things I tell people all the time is like, because you don't know, try, and they think of like, what's a good way to test this kind of theme for an ad or like, what's a good way of dipping your toes in without going like fully onboard and spending a ton of money on something before, you know, if it's going to perform.
So, I mean, one of the reasons why, like, I love my designer so much is that she, um, does a really good job of kind of like stopping at 80%. And I think that that's a really, really hard ask for, for designers. Um, so I consider this, I consider this video, the poor ad. I kind of like an 80%, uh, and we tested it and it didn't work and that's totally fine because we could focus our efforts on, on other things. Um, but you never, you just never know. You never know what's going to take off and let's just give a stagnate. Yeah. Out of curiosity, I noticed the rich had going through a product page more or less, and this is kind of going through an actual extension page more or less. Do you think that had anything to do with it or just didn't work? It just didn't work. You know, it's funny about the Lysol ad is that we actually use it. We we've used that ad to send to the Chrome extension and it performs better than the ad with the Chrome extension, which is like, it's just crazy. You know, you just don't know what people are going to do. Oh man. Well, there we have, it y'all can be done correctly, but shoot, that's definitely elder.
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I know Zach's getting pumped about this and I am too, but my gosh, we want to hear about how you spend so much on black Friday cyber Monday. So, I mean, I think everybody can kind of take a note out from here. So get those journals out y'all and start taking some notes, but yeah, go ahead and break it down for us. You know, how do you set up these, you know, conversations with clients, um, you know, how do you pace, you know, 500 K budget in one day? I mean the amount of questions, can you kind of let it unfold for us a little bit? Sure. It's that first I'll, I'll tell my 500 K stories cause they think it's a good one. Um, you guys can have it later if you disagree. Okay. So I'll paint the scene. So I was two months into launching my own company.
Uh, this was like one of our very, very first clients. Um, and they came to me directly through Facebook. It was like, you know, pulling teeth, trying to get Facebook to send over any kind of recommendations. And they did. And it was like, it was a brand that had money. And so I was like, I was really, really excited to work with them. Um, they were already spending a lot, they were spending like 50 K a day normally. Um, so that, that was a, that was a hefty budget to have. Uh, and Q4 was like really, really their time to shine. Um, so they came to me before black Friday and they said, we want you to spend as much money as you can. And you know, at the time I also like didn't really understand client relations. So I was just like, Okie dokie sounds like a plan.
Um, so I I'll go, I'll go a little bit more in depth into how, like how I actually technically set up the campaigns and what we did, um, on the backend. But, uh, I made some adjustments, turned everything on, you know, went to bed, um, they're on the East coast. And so I woke up in the morning, we'd spent like already six figures and I get all of these emails and I'm just like, Oh my God, I'm in trouble. I was like, everything is a disaster. Like this is going to be a terrible thing for my business. Like, do I have business insurance yet? Like, what's going to happen. They're gonna be so mad at me, like, blah, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, all of the emails are like, the ads are crushing. It can we spend more?
And so that day on black Friday, he got to $500,000 in ad spend. And like, they want to spend more, they always want to spend more. That's like the thing that they tell me all the time, they're just like, how do we do more and more and more? Um, and it's, it's incredible, but you know, it really speaks like it speaks to the fact that, um, they, they had it down anyway. Right. So like when you're spending 50 K a day, you can't be like, half-assing in your ads. Like they, they had a good flow. Um, so the ads were good. The offer was good. Um, they put out like a special deal for black Friday. They had a special landing page. Um, they actually like had sales reps who would call people if they wanted any help, like everything was put in place so that they were ready to accept this scale.
And I think that's a really important, um, thing dimension, because if you don't have it set up where like you're going to do a whole thing for black Friday, cyber Monday, Christmas day, whatever, it's not going to work because everyone who you're competing with is going to have that ready. And, you know, often when I'm talking to clients about black Friday, like sometimes I'm just like, look, you're not going to compete. And you know, that's fine. Like just don't do anything. They just do retargeting on black Friday and that's it like otherwise turn everything off. Um, and that's probably the advice that I give a lot more often than like, Hey, what about your we're bad at your wire transfer from your bank account? And like, let's see how much we can do that happens. I think a lot less often.
Yeah. So I wanna, like, I want to talk about how many ad accounts that you run that through. Was that all through one account? Yeah. Oh my gosh. That's amazing. Okay. Next question. How, how did you get like the payments through on that? Were they just like on invoicing or like,
So when you're spending 50 K a day on Facebook, you're like, you're on invoicing. Um, you know, they're a billion dollar company, so their line of credit is astronomical on Facebook. Like nobody was going to be like, Oh, this company is spending some money. What should we do?
Gotcha. Yeah. Cool. Uh, Bez an amazing story. We'll definitely not cut that out. I feel like there's going to be a ton of people that would be like, what are your secrets to spending? So like tell us, what did you actually say?
Secrets. Okay. So, um, there's a few. So again, my thinking about kind of holistically what happened, there's a few things that needed to be there in order for this to work. Uh, so number one, they had, they had a specific offer. So they had like a new campaign that was launching that had ads just for black Friday. They had an offer page just for black Friday. Um, and uh, like a huge discount. I forgot what it was. I think it was like 30, 40%. It was really big. Um, and that was really important because what it meant was that their conversion rates were going to be a lot higher than normal. Uh, and so people who would normally like my hypothesis that turned out to be right, thank God was that my, my, the people who would normally abandoned cart or the people who would like kind of go there and like shop not really do anything or, you know, whatever, just like leave, um, that they were going to convert at a much higher rate.
And so based on that hypothesis, it changed their conversion event and moved it up funnel. So we went from purchase to add to cart, um, and that opened up the funnel a ton, um, because they normally have a ton of people who were just abandoned cart. Um, so they would add something to the cart and then they wouldn't purchase, but because their conversion rate increased, um, the number of conversions that they were getting an agile cart was really high and we didn't need to optimize towards purchase. Um, and so kind of like digging into that a little bit more. So the way that the Facebook algorithm works is that if you're optimizing towards a certain event, Facebook tries to find people who, uh, the algorithm thinks are likely to complete that event. So if you're optimizing towards purchase, it finds people who are likely to make a purchase.
And what that means is either that they, um, look like someone who's made a purchase on your site previously, or they're just likely to buy online. So they've made a purchase kind of ever somewhere in the world, um, versus someone who maybe just likes to click on ads. So that person could just be like, click happy, clicking everywhere. You know, like, imagine your mom or your grandma, like scrolling Facebook, like fat fingering all over the place. Um, and so there's a lot more people who have ever clicked on it, hat versus people who have actually completed a purchase from an ad. So when you move out of that upper funnel, it's opening up the number of people who are likely to actually see your ad and it will allow you to increase the budgets. Um, I think I also put the budget. I mean, I definitely like made that campaign budget, like crazy, crazy high. This was before campaign optimization. So, uh, so we had like, this was before, like all the things that I use now. So, um, we had, I think no campaign has been limit. And I think I put each of the ad sets by the limits at like, I don't know, like $20,000 each. And I like tripled the bids.
Heck yeah. A little bully method out there, wipe the competition out, I'm into it.
But you know, that's also why, like, if you're not a company that can afford to spend tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars on black Friday might not be the right day for you, you can, are going to get bullied out. Same with like election day this year. Right. Or I guess Facebook just said, um, I just saw the release today that they're not running ads on election day. So like day before election day, if you're not running ads for an election and you don't have a ton of money, probably not the right day for you to be increasing your spend. Um, so, you know, you just have to think about like, what, what is going on at the micro level with your business, but also really at the macro level, like what's going on overall, that's going to impact the numbers that you're seeing in the costs that you're seeing.
So good. So good. I love it. This has been amazing. I, uh, I feel like your, your secret is, uh, Hey, let's just go get like a really big clients that have billions of dollars. They don't struggle with cash flow. They don't, they don't have any challenges getting lines of credit or, or cards with like huge limits. So, um, I feel like that's your secret, uh, but, uh, this has been awesome. So tell me a little bit about, um, what you got going on next and, uh, how they can get in touch.
Yeah, absolutely. So, um, this is it, you know, we're in Q4, so we're on the home stretch of this year. Uh, so anyone who is looking to scale up your spend or, um, you know, just do kind of anything related to the end of the year, uh, you can find me on lightening, ai.com, uh, or if you want, you can find me on LinkedIn. Um, I do actually respond to my messages. So if you message me and say, like, I've heard about you on reach out for a podcast, uh, I will message you back. We can get in touch, we can chat. Um, it will be fun
As awesome. Awesome, awesome stuff. All right. Cool. Thank you so much, Colette. This has been awesome. If you guys all want to go spend 500 K on black, Friday it up collect because that's not my department. Thank you so much. It's been amazing.
Yeah. Thank you guys. This has been fun.
That was awesome. Thanks so much for listening to another episode of the rich ed or ed podcast. If you're like me and listen to podcasts on the go, go ahead and subscribe on Apple podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and rich dad, poor dad.com/podcast. And if you absolutely love the show, go ahead and leave a review and a comment share with a friend. If you do take a copy screenshot of it, email me [email protected] Show me you left a review. I'll give you a free copy of the rich add for ed book. Learn more about the book. Go to rich ed for a.com to leave a review that a rich ad for a.com/review. Thanks again.
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Jason Hornung is the founder and Creative Director at JH Media LLC, the world’s #1 direct response advertising agency focusing exclusively on the Facebook ads platform. Jason’s proprietary methods for ad creation, audience selection and scaling are responsible for producing $20 million + of profitable sales for his clients EVERY YEAR