Austin Brawner: What's up, everybody? Welcome to another episode of the Ecommerce Influence Podcast. My name is Austin Brawner.
Andrew Foxwell: And I'm Andrew Foxwell. How are you, buddy?
Austin Brawner: I'm doing well, man. I'm doing well. For me, a lot of the work that I do is pre-holiday work, preparing for the holiday work. So, during the holidays, if all things go well, I'm not nearly as busy as, well, I think probably you have felt over the last couple of weeks. How are you doing?
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. I've been in a cage match, to be honest and it's good. We have all of the plans, the battle plans in place. Things have gone well, but there's always something that comes up and especially, there was a ton of Facebook bugs this year that just came up. There was problems that came out of the blue, there was stuff that just didn't work. So, it was a little bit crazy, to be honest. But there are some things generally, overall there's some things that've really worked well and I think you go into them in this episode where we interview four of, really, I think, some of the best colleagues that I have in the world on Facebook advertising.
Austin Brawner: No, hundred percent. What you talked about with the Facebook bugs was not a joke. That slowed down pretty much everybody in the paid media-buying world, whether you're in-house or you're at an agency. I think everybody dealt with that. Yeah, you were not alone. If you were struggling with your ads during the crucial days of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, that week, Facebook really wasn't there for you guys this year. Who knows what's going on? There's a lot going on over there and this year, they kinda dropped the ball.
So, yeah. That was one of the things. We wanted to get together an episode, Andrew brought in his four top people to talk about their experience to give you guys a Black Friday, Cyber Monday recap, how it went down, what they learned, so on and so forth.
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, it's a good episode and I think you'll really enjoy it, so let's get to it.
Hey everybody, welcome to the show. I have some very illustrious guests today to talk about the Black Friday, Cyber Monday crazy weekend beginning with Jason Portnoy from JPORT Media, Alex Afterman from 11:11 Digital, Pierson Krass from Red Giant Growth, and Ryan Kovach from Social Outlier. Welcome to the show, gentlemen.
Ryan Kovach: Thanks for having me.
Alex Afterman: Thanks for having us
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, you can all say hi, that's okay.
Well, welcome. It's a crazy time. All of us are a little burned out. We're recording this on Cyber Monday, actually. So, would love to hear just a win. A win from the weekend of what you did and what worked and how you really helped somebody.
Ryan Kovach: For sure.
Andrew Foxwell: Who wants to take it first?
Alex Afterman: I'll go.
Andrew Foxwell: I mean ... Okay, go for it.
Alex Afterman: Cool. All right. So, I have a client in the beauty space, and the goal was to get a three to a three-and-a-half ROAS for them on roughly a $30,000 budget for the Black Friday period. Opportunity to go higher if we were hitting or beating that goal. And we've been getting like a seven. So, it's gone really well. They are super happy, I'm super happy. So, yeah.
Andrew Foxwell: That's awesome. That's very cool. That's very cool. Yeah, just thinking about all of the things. Now, what's really been working on that account, Alex?
Alex Afterman: Yeah, okay. So, value optimization. I'm doing automatic bidding, so nothing fancy with manual bids. Just value optimization. This is an account where I've used value before for them and it's worked well. Not ever this well, I have to say, but I felt comfortable. Everything is value. So, cold traffic, warm traffic, DPA, everything is value.
Andrew Foxwell: Wow.
Alex Afterman: Yeah.
Andrew Foxwell: That's amazing. Ryan, what do you think about that?
Ryan Kovach: Yeah. I actually, for one account I moved away from value. I ran a test about the week before and value started to work a little less. So, I moved, I sort of did three ... for most accounts, I sort of ran it like a broad-match, a bid cap, and then an auto. So, moving away from value, but that's really exciting to hear that it worked, Alex. Really cool stuff there.
On our end, my end, what worked really well was, for one specific client, the goal was pretty much to get a 3.5X and then, from there, you can really spend as much as you want. Last year, they did about 250K through the month of November and we're just about to cross that $1 million threshold, so about a 4X increase on their month year over year. So, that's really exciting. Yeah, that one's huge.
Most of our clients across everything had their best months or days ever, so this is sort of peak Facebook ads and peak performance over the course of the last ten years and the upcoming years, as it gets more competitive, I think this specific window, maybe next year or in a couple years, really, really powerful and it worked.
One thing that I saw that worked well. One account, it worked well, but it started slow. We had sort of a middle-of-the-run offer, 20%, 30%. Yeah, as you guys know, as this gets more and more competitive, 20% and 30% is a little bit dull. So, out of gates, just sort of saying, "Up to 40%," but most things were 20% off had some traction. But it was sending them to a homepage, sending them to a specific ... a collection page. That worked, all right. But then we sort of pivoted and went to specific product categories or specific shirts and apparel items, and that actually worked better.
So, not sending people to having to browse where they have to sort of price compare every single item, but it's more work. But going specifically, "Here's the product and the deal on this product." And then using those at specific audiences for that product, that worked really well. Some accounts where you're sort of able to do the broad here's the general 20% off, did all right. But I found it work really, really well when you'd go after specific products, the best sellers, things like that. That worked awesome.
And then bid caps. Bid caps crushed. Andrew, I think you know got this tip from you, the little CPC bidding on the remarketing audiences, loved that. That crushed too.
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, you got to force that bid, baby. That's what it's all about. I'm glad to hear that. It's interesting, and I know there's a lot of nuance in the things that you said. I want to go to Pierson.
Pierson, for you, what's been the thing in bidding that's really kind of changed it for you? Because bid caps worked for Ryan, for me. I tried some bid caps. I did a lot of override bids, and those did well. But bid caps, in the accounts that I'm working on now, unless they're spending 20 grand a month or more, 30 grand a month of just like not enough volume there. What are you seeing?
Pierson Krass: Yeah. That's exactly what I'm seeing. We've got a pretty good spectrum of client size. Actually, for the most part, anyone that was spending less than 5k a day, which we definitely have some small clients who were, we didn't really do much with the bidding besides your CPC bidding on the lower parts of the funnel. But for some of our larger clients, like we have a client who we need to spend between Black Friday through today, we'll spend like 200,000 on prospecting, which is a little daunting during this time, and they have a very low average order volume. So basically, to hit the ROAS goal, we're looking at like sub 25 acquisition costs.
We were actually running just bid cap, like a $50 bid cap to basically the entire country. So, not narrowing it down at all, just huge open audiences. That's been holding strong. It really came down to creative, we just tested a ton of creative. But basically doing the big cap on these wide open audiences has been strong. And then we also did some with interest based stuff layered over it, and that worked really well as well.
Andrew Foxwell: Well, in some of these things, that's good to hear. I want to clarify the language. People use them differently. There's the bid cap, which do you mean a target cost bid, or do you mean a bid cap on an override on a conversion campaign seven-day click one-day view, and then a big cap on a $50? Or do you mean an actual cost cap?
Pierson Krass: No, no, I'm talking about a big cap. It was actually kind of surprising that we got away with it. Because usually, I have to raise them quite a bit higher than that. So, the target cost wasn't spending for us, so we were doing big caps and overriding basically to 2X our target acquisition costs.
Andrew Foxwell: Right. Portnoy, JPORT Media, what are you feeling about that lately in terms of different bids that worked for you? And I'd love to hear Jason too, what audiences. Did you do a lot of combination of audiences, or did you separate them out of a lower funnel or did you lump them all together? I'd love to hear about that.
Jason Portnoy: Yeah. Nothing fancy, really. You and I spoke a little bit offline before we started saying that I found this Black Friday, Cyber Monday, aside from the day that Facebook kind of just went down, being pretty smooth and relatively smooth in terms of getting clients to spend the money and getting Facebook actually spend that money that they were putting out there. But for the most part, one of our clients is seeing a 5X over this past weekend, bringing them to around four, a little high threes on the month, and taking them to them almost $600,000 this month, which is definitely their high.
They're extremely, extremely happy, but it's the work that went in before, I would say, Black Friday Cyber Monday. The work that went in almost since August of building out the right audiences so that come this time, we know we could spend money and we know we could spend money on the cheap for the most part. So, we left the top of funnel cold audience running, but most of our money, I would say 80% of the budget was then poured into a warmer audience. So, we broke it down almost to engagers.
So, everyone who's engaged with either their Facebook page, their website, or their Instagram page in the last 180 days, we broke it down by their email list and their most engaged users. So, we kind of went really targeted that way and broke that down to different ad sets. That's what really crushed it. But I wish it was that secret sauce that made a crush and Black Friday Cyber Monday, but it was the work that I think went into it before that, that really helped.
Andrew Foxwell: Right. Yeah. Alex, so what do you think about that?
Alex Afterman: Yeah, totally agree. So, the client that I was actually talking about at the beginning of this that we did really great for, we started in late September early October, just building audiences pointing towards Black Friday week. The warm audiences are great, but you burn them out fast, right? But, because we spent all that time building up huge, huge, warm audiences, we started our sale early. We started on Monday, last Monday. So, we're in day eight now, and the warm audiences are still producing, the frequencies are reasonable. Yeah, totally agree with that. I think that the work leading up to this week or last week is what led to the success last week.
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, I think you can't overstate the pre-work that was done. I just looked at that pre-Black Friday or time period or pre-Thanksgiving time period. You guys know I like to call it phase one. And phase one time frame, I just looked at a client and including phase one and phase two, building up the specific remarketing pools that we tried in different categories of their products, and then we did remarketing to those particular categories. Kind of what you were getting to, Ryan, which is pretty cool. And overall, they're at an 8X, which is fantastic for them. So, really impactful kind of that pre-work that was being done.
One thing there was a lot of discussions about as well, I want to go back to Ryan to talk about this, is his campaign budget optimization and utilizing CBO within a lot of your campaigns. Did you utilize CBO at all within this time period or not? Because it was kind of a risk that a lot of people were taking, and it turns out that it works really well for some people I heard, and I used it. But talk about that a little bit.
Ryan Kovach: Yeah, of course. Yeah, it did work well. That's something I was, leading into this period, a little hesitant. Because the more I'd think, if you're testing during that time, that's a risk. And so, you don't want to be too risky. You want to go tried and true. What I found worked well and partially with our mutual friend, David, is sort of separating out CBOs into like targeting options.
For example, a CBO of smaller lookalikes, so 1% or 2% or 1% with layers, things like that worked well. And that and then having another CBO with higher, broader audiences. So, maybe that's a broad interest category, an entire category. Or maybe it's a seven to 10% lookalikes. And so, sort of separating CBOs out into, like I said, similar targeting options, I found that way ... The fear of CBO is always you don't control which one it's going to serve to. It kind of acts similar to ad sets or ads in an ad set, where the most engaged gets all of the spend. That might not necessarily be the best for purchases and ROAS. So, yeah, that that was something that after just looking at the data this week, the CBO that had like audiences work really well. So, that was something continue to use going forward, but it was nice.
So, CBOs big fan. One thing that's interesting with those two is just starting to play around more with the minimum ad set targeting, or the minimum ad set budget, sorry about that, is you can set it. So, say, for example, you have your campaign to roughly spend $500 per ad set in your CBO. You can set each one of those at the ad set level to make sure they spend $100. That way, you're not giving Facebook total reigns to just spend wherever they see good engagement, you're getting some level of consistency. I think that, so setting like $100 minimum ad set budget on a CBO, that worked well too. Yeah, those are my thoughts on CBO. Going forward, it's just something, I think we've all seen it over the past couple of months where it was, does this work? Is this helpful? I know a lot of us tested it in the month coming up to it, we started to see better stuff. So, yeah, big fan.
Anybody else have good thoughts and good-
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. Jason, what do you think about CBO?
Jason Portnoy: I absolutely love CBO, and for all the reasons that Ryan just named. I think leading up to it was crushing it. I thought on my end, I didn't want to risk testing during this time. So, I kept the strong, warm audience that I had going after for Black Friday, Cyber Monday for the clients. I kept that kind of as individual ad sets and going strong and didn't really want to play around with too much testing. But left CBO running towards top of the funnel, which just dominated. I've never seen cold audience do that well during this time of year and doing it pretty much the same way Ryan's doing it.
So, the way we have it is we use it mostly on interest. We build an interest group one, interest group two, interest group three, and then just kind of run CBO on them. They were doing great. I'm talking like close to 3X top of funnel during this weekend.
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, it's interesting. I had gone through and not utilized CBO in one account, but had pushed really high on bid caps like 5X the CPA goal into one or two and two to 4% lookalikes. Those had done really well and I thought, "Man, I should have thrown all this in a CBO." But Pierson, what do you think? Did you have good results on campaign budget optimization?
Pierson Krass: Yeah, I was actually going to say the same thing that Jason just said. We did the same thing. We had various interest groups in CBO campaigns, and it worked really well across a handful of different budgets or a handful of different clients. So, it was pretty nice.
Andrew Foxwell: That's great. I think that's something that obviously we can integrate into the rest of the year. One thing to think about that I'd be curious to your thoughts on, Alex, is we've had some difference in strategy this way before, which is good, and I like to split placements really a lot of times in the lower part of the funnel to make sure that Instagram fully gets its own spend, and Instagram Stories gets its own full spend, especially on really valuable audiences. And you've done a lot of combinations of things, which has done well, obviously, more data at the asset level et cetera. Did you do any splits or try that out at all, or was it mostly just lumping them all into one ad set and letting Facebook decide?
Alex Afterman: Here's what I did. Any client that had stories, and unfortunately not all of my clients did, but most of them did, I split into stories ad sets, and everything else ad set. So, I still kind of kept to my instinct to combine things and not split placements, but did for stories. I wanted stories obviously, they're a specific creative, so I wanted them to get that placement and get that budget and that worked really well. Stories killed it, which is great. They tended to kill it more on warm traffic, which I think some of us have experienced before.
The one account that I talked about at the beginning that was just sort of the best performing of all my accounts this week, stories killed it everywhere, cold traffic, warm traffic, all over the place. But most of the other accounts, stories did great for warm traffic, not so good for cold traffic, and I would start to kill off those cold traffic ad sets. And then, otherwise, everything else would be lumped all placements.
I did a lot of experimenting, separating out placements before Black Friday. I thought the results for my accounts were inconclusive. Basically, I was willing, if the data blew me away, I would have changed the strategy, but it didn't. And so, I just went with kind of my instinct, which is keep them together.
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, right. Yeah. I think that's smart. I think it's one of those things where if the client has a particularly strong Instagram audience, then it's going to make sense to continue to use that. There was obviously some pre-discussion too, before Black Friday about utilizing and really, I guess in the month of October was when it really saw a lot of this about utilizing a lot more interests versus lookalikes and interests performing better than lookalikes. Was that the case for anybody this holiday, where your interests and some of that actually outperformed lookalikes on the prospecting that you did do?
Jason Portnoy: I think, for me, I think interest really kind of took off when lookalikes had that problem when Facebook was updating their policies and everything that happened and pulling out different audiences. And you kind of had to rebuild the lookalikes and lookalikes kind of just took a bit of a hit. Interest kind of really peaked up. I think now lookalikes are kind of climbing back, and it's been pretty steady across the board from what I've seen.
I love interest. I think in terms of horizontal scaling, it's incredible. I think it's really underutilized. I think a lot of people just up the budget really fast on campaigns instead of trying to always find new audiences to build.
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. Pierson, what do you think?
Pierson Krass: Yeah. For us, lookalikes have definitely fallen off a bit, especially the last ... Well, they fell off and they came back, and then they kind of fell off the last few days. So, I'd say the bulk of our prospecting is going towards interest now, or just really open audiences in general, especially for some of the larger accounts that we have.
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah, that's interesting. Interesting to hear. Ryan, what do you think, man?
Ryan Kovach: Yeah, I just wanted to echo sort of the same sentiment where lookalike still did well, but sort of surprising that interest continued to do really strong as well. One of the little tips that have worked well for me in regards to what interests you should go after, is just going into Google Analytics. And if this is your first-time sort of doing this, going into Google Analytics, the Audience tab, and then clicking on the Interest overview. If they've been running any sort of traffic to the website, as long as they're not a brand new startup, that audience interest Overview tab has a bunch of in-market audience in affinity categories and other categories that you can sort of ... I've just found that to work really well.
For example, I'm looking at one right now, inside of Google Analytics, the in-market segment for a client had Home and Garden home decor. This is a men's brand. So, when I'm looking at this, I go, "Home and garden's a little weird, that's a lot of female shoppers." So, then launching a broad interest with just home and garden, that really, really broad one and using a bid cap on that worked really well. That's something just to echo the same sentiments as everybody else here, where interest targeting can work really well if you're looking for what interest to go after. Google Analytics is super helpful there.
Andrew Foxwell: That's really good to hear. Now, just as an open consulting, or excuse me, a counseling session for all of us here before we go. What was the worst Facebook bug that you just were pulling your hair out over in the last seven days that was just ... you couldn't stand it? Alex, what was that for you?
Alex Afterman: I have actually two. One is just general for every account, in one single account specific. So, the general for every account was on Tuesday when you couldn't turn ads off, but the reporting was lagging. So, you were just spending money and hoping that it worked out okay. I'm very thankful that I had pretty good results, really good in some accounts, no disasters. I did not have to go back to any clients and say, "I spent a ton of your money today with no results or very bad results, and I couldn't do anything about it." But I spent a very anxious afternoon waiting for the reporting to populate and just hoping that what I saw was good, which is a really uncomfortable position, right?
I think all of us are used to keeping a close eye on things and feeling a level of control, where if things aren't going well, there are steps you can take to change it. And just kind of having to sit back and hope for the best was this really uncomfortable feeling. A lot of my accounts had started their sales either Monday or Tuesday, so we went early with a lot of my people. And so, Tuesday, almost everything, all my sales were in full swing and just kind of sitting back and hoping for the best. That was my most anxious moment.
My most frustrated moment was, so I talked about the value optimization for my one client that did really well. Here's the downside. A bug developed some time between Thursday night and Friday morning, where the value optimization ad sets, which as a reminder were just about everything in this one account, were uneditable. They threw an error anytime I tried to do anything. I couldn't scale, which my client was madly asking scale, scale, scale. They're doing great scale. Couldn't scale, I couldn't swap in new ads, I couldn't edit anything. Anything I tried to do, it would just throw an error. So, I had to duplicate and put together a bunch of conversion optimized ad sets. So, I'm kind of running conversion head to head on value.
But it was the only way to scale, it was the only way to add in Cyber Monday ads. It was not my preference, because the value was working great. And cardinal rule, if you have something that's working great, don't mess with it. But I was forced to do it. The conversion campaigns are doing okay, they're not doing as well as the value, but they're doing well enough to keep going. But I think that we lost potentially tens of thousands of dollars just by not being able to scale these ad sets that were doing great.
Andrew Foxwell: Brutal. Just brutal. Anybody else have anything they want to share in that regard, just to air it publicly of the worst error that you saw?
Ryan Kovach: Yeah. Tuesday was brutal. As people like us in this world where you're managing multiple clients when you know you can't ... I don't know if you guys had it as bad as me on my end, I couldn't build all of Tuesday. So, pretty much Monday morning, waking up bright and early, or Wednesday morning waking up bright and early to try and cram and get everybody live and then situated, having it be down partially Monday and all of Tuesday was a real headache. Thanks for that, Facebook.
Another one that happened was Facebook's spend gaps. You guys are very familiar with them. But what happens on those is Facebook has a spending cap on ad accounts that isn't something us advertisers can see. And so, last year, and for a handful of clients, we make sure these get raised. We tell our ad account reps like, "Hey, bump these bad boys up. We don't want to get capped at $5,000. If things are going well, we want to spend on your platform." For whatever reason, a handful of our accounts got reset to $5,000 of the spend cap limit. And since Facebook was out of office most the weekend, that one account specifically, where they're getting about ... typically, this brand gets like two and a half to 3X, they were getting like a 6X at scale, including prospecting. Prospecting was cruising like four and a half 5X.
So, really, we see them, we're trying to spend 30 grand. And the spend caps really just brutal. And then you guys know how that works once you just sort of things shut off, it's hard to pick up momentum. So, a lot of work Saturday and Sunday to try and rebuild the momentum that was sort of captured on Friday. Yeah, that was the big headache on my end. Stupid spend caps. A lot of fun. So, yeah. I'm excited to sort of get out of this season, out of this crazy period. I'm excited that Facebook's agency reps are back in the office, finally. Hopefully, we don't have to do that again. Yeah.
Andrew Foxwell: Right. Well, gentlemen, thank you very much for joining us. I really appreciate it and I appreciate your time sharing some thoughts. Why don't we just go and you can give out your contact information in case anybody has questions or wants to follow up on anything they said. We'll start with that Jason.
Jason Portnoy: Yeah, sure. First of all, thanks for doing this, Andrew. It was good to vent. I think Tuesday took a lot out of all of us, so it was good to kind of have each other event. Quickly, my information is Jason JPORTmedia. You could reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org J-P-O-R-Tmedia.com.
Andrew Foxwell: Awesome. Alex, how can people get a hold of you?
Alex Afterman: Yeah. I'm Alex Afterman, and my company is 11:11 Digital. My email addresses Alex, A-L-E-X, @1111digital.com.
Andrew Foxwell: Awesome. Pierson?
Pierson Krass: Pierson Krass at Red Giant Growth. Just email@example.com.
Andrew Foxwell: Pierson's one of my good buddies, and the best part about Pierson is you always sound like you're not enthusiastic, but you're always very enthusiastic. For those listening, Pierson's had a ... It's the end of a long weekend for all of these guys, so don't judge, okay?
Pierson Krass: Yeah, I guess. I throw in that we last Tuesday, half of Wednesday, we had to have our whole staff in for Thanksgiving, and we have not slept much the past couple of days. It's been a long week, but, that'll do it.
Andrew Foxwell: Yeah. One my favorites in the industry. Ryan, how can people get ahold of you?
Ryan Kovach: Yeah. Honestly, the easiest way is you'll find me on Twitter. I know a lot of us hang out on Twitter. The quickest way is @kovachr, K-O-V-A-C-H-R. Feel free to give me a follow, zoom any questions you have there. And you might encounter a little bit of complaining from time to time on moments like Tuesday. But outside of that, feel free to get in touch.
Andrew Foxwell: Awesome. Well, thank you very much, gentlemen. It's been a real pleasure, and we look forward to what's next and throughout the holidays. So, thank you very much.
Alex Afterman: Thanks for having me.
Ryan Kovach: Been a pleasure. Thank you.