How to Spy on Your Competitors’ Facebook Ads
What if I told you that you could be the James Bond of local marketing? Would you be interested?
I can’t promise you access to an Aston Martin and Bond’s cool gadgets, but I can tell you how to get a bead on your competitors’ Facebook ads. It’s one of the best ways I know to fine-tune your marketing and outpace your local competition.
The good news? It’s not hard to do! You don’t need a lot of money or a British accent. Here’s what you need to know.
What is the Facebook Ad Library?
You’re probably aware that Facebook and its creator, Mark Zuckerberg, have come under some intense scrutiny since the 2016 presidential election due to the use of the social media platform for “fake news” ads. One of the tools that Facebook has made available to address the criticism is the Facebook Ad Library.
On the surface, its intended use is to provide transparency in advertising. You can plug in the name of any Facebook page and see the ads they’ve placed – with a special emphasis on political and issue-based ads.
The search option defaults to issue, Electoral or Political ads, but there are two other options available:
- Housing (Facebook has also come under attack for allowing lenders to use ads in discriminatory ways)
- All Ads
That last option is the one that lets you peek at what your competitors are doing.
How to Use the Facebook Ad Library
The key to using the Facebook Ad Library is understanding how it works and what to do with the information you find there.
The first step is to make a list of your competitors. Make sure to note the exact name they use on Facebook – you’ll need that information to view their ads.
Next, go to the Facebook Ad Library. Then follow these steps:
- Click the “All Ads” option.
- Type in the name of the competitor whose ads you want to see into the search box.
- Choose their page from the list that appears.
Once you click the name, you’ll see a page that displays the Facebook ads the page is running. You’ll be able to see:
- Whether the ad is active or not
- When your competitor began running the ad
- The ad content, including copy, images, and video
- The ad’s ID number
- The URL of the ad, so you can add it to your library for future reference
What I particularly like is that you can see every iteration of the ad that’s running. For example, you might notice that a competitor is running two similar ads with different images or slightly different copy.
The one thing you can’t do is spy on their targeting, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make inferences from what you find.
Tips for Using What You Find on Facebook Ad Library
How can you use what you find with Facebook Ad Library? Here are some tips and best practices to help you make the most of your espionage.
- Save any ads you think are useful. As I mentioned above, you can easily get the URL of any ad by clicking on the three dots on the upper right-hand corner of the ad. Click on “Copy Ad Link” to get the Ad Library URL for the link. I keep a spreadsheet to track the ads that I collect.
- Look at the images your competitors are using for hints about what their target audience wants. If you know a competitor is doing well and you notice they’re using illustrations or infographics in their ads, it might be a good idea to emulate what they’re doing and upgrade your images accordingly.
- Make notes about the types of content your competitors are promoting. Are they using images? Videos? Quizzes? It’s especially useful to note the content that gets used most frequently. If your competitors are paying any attention to the ROI on their Facebook ads, the repeated content is also likely their most profitable content.
- Pay attention to how your competitors link the images in their ads to the copy. Most effective FB ads use images that are directly related to the offer in the ad, but there are exceptions. Paying attention to trends among your competitors can help you do a better job of choosing compelling images for your own ads.
Think of the ads you see as a textbook showing you how to connect with your target audience and pull customers away from your competitors.
Dynamic Creative Ads
One of the best ways to capitalize on what you learn from spying on your competitors is to let Facebook do some of the work for you. If you’re not already using Dynamic Creative Ads, which is Facebook’s automated ad creator, then you’re probably missing out on a chance to connect with your audience.
Dynamic Creative Ads will help you create ad combinations you might not have considered on your own. You’ll need to make sure you have the types of content you want to use in your library, but you can do that easily enough after you spy on your competitors.
Basically, Dynamic Creative Ads will mix and match your options to allow you to reach your marketing goals. You can choose goals that include:
- Video Views
- Brand Awareness
- App Installation
I think of the Facebook Ad Library and Facebook Dynamic Creative Ads as a one-two punch that will help you to get the best of your competitors even if they have a bigger advertising budget than you do. By using both, you can eliminate much of the guesswork and uncertainty that comes with Facebook advertising.
My suggestion is to dedicate some time early in the new year to scoping out what your competitors are doing with their Facebook advertising. Use what you learn to create the kind of content that’s going to help you divert traffic from them, increase your conversion rate, and grow your business.