I don’t know about you, but when I’m looking for ideas to set up a new ad campaign on Facebook or Instagram, I often wonder what my competitors’ Facebook ads are:
– How do they address their target and what tone do they use? What is the length of their copy?
– Do they use single image ads or carousel ads? What kind of images do they choose?
– Do they have nice videos?
When you have to create new ads and have the Blank Page Syndrome, there’s nothing better to find inspiration than to check what other advertisers are doing, either in the same industry or in a completely different market.
Wouldn’t it help if you could spy on your competitors’ Facebook ads? 👀
Well… It’s possible and Facebook has made it super easy! Exciting, isn’t it?
The Best Tools to Research Your Competitors’ Facebook Ads
Facebook Ad Library
This is a library that lists ALL the ads currently running on all Facebook Pages around the world. As a marketing geek myself, I see it as a real goldmine. 🤩
Using this tool, you will be able to view all active ads from any page on all possible ad placements (Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Audience Network).
Let’s check the Facebook Ad Library for Nike, as an example:
What can you learn from the Facebook Ad Library?
– Their advertising formats of choice (video, carousel, etc.)
– The kind of messages they are using
– If they are promoting a marketing offer
– The landing page used for these ads. You just need to click on the ads’ CTA.
– What A/B tests the advertiser is currently carrying.
– When the ads have been launched. As you only can see the active ads, if an ad is still running after a few months, it is likely because it’s performing well.
If your competitor is running ads across multiple locations, you’ll see a drop-down list that allows you to filters the ads by country. You’ll know which regions they are focusing on, as well as if they’re targeting a new country or region.
On the other hand, what can’t you learn?
– 🛑 You will NOT be able to see the target audience or the budget allocated to them. So you won’t be able to use this tool to target your competitors’ audience.
– 🛑 You won’t have any information about whether these ads are generating a good return on investment or whether they’re totally failing. Of course, you won’t be able to see the click rates of these ads (thank goodness!), but you won’t see the reactions to these ads either. The ads that work well and have been running for a long time are usually ads that have accumulated a lot of likes, comments, and shares. And that’s only visible to the advertiser… and to the people targeted by those ads.
Pro Tip: As you are only able to see the active ads, you should keep screenshots of your direct competitors’ Facebook ads if you wish to keep an archive of their campaigns.
“Page Transparency” Box
As part of its 2018 effort to address privacy concerns, Facebook released an ads transparency tool that allows users to view which ads a Facebook page is currently running.
You can access this tool from your Competitor’s Page, by clicking on the “Page Transparency” Box. Note that it will simply redirect you to the Ad Library.
The Old School Way to find your competitors’ Facebook ads
And here is a technique that is a bit laborious but that can be interesting because it will allow you to see the social proof for the ads.
How does it work?
You probably use Facebook every day. All you have to do is intercept the different ads you’re targeted with and analyze them.
The problem is that you may not be exactly the ideal target for your products and those of your competitors. As a result, you encounter very few interesting ads to analyze for your business.
But don’t worry: In order to be targeted by the right companies and to see ads related to what you sell appear in your news feed, it’s very simple. Simply interact with posts, Facebook pages or groups related to your market. You can also visit competing websites to be reached by their remarketing.
The more you show Facebook your interest in a particular topic, the more you will be targeted by ads promoting products or services related to that topic. This is an effective way to find competing ads. In no time you’ll start to see your competitors’ Facebook ads appear in your feed. 😉
The “Why am I seeing this ad?” trick
For every ad you see in your feed on Facebook, click on the icon on the top right and select “Why am I seeing this ad?”
A pop-up explaining why you were targeted will appear. It will allow you to know more about the strategy of the advertiser, whether it is:
– Similar audience;
– Interest targeting (with a specific demographic target).
Here are a few examples of “Why You’re Seeing This Ad” messages so you can understand better Facebook’s language:
Here, we have the message “Elementor indicated you may have visited their website”. It means that it was a retargeting ad.
For this other ad, we have the message “HuffPost wants to reach people who may be similar to their customers.” It means they are using a Similar Audience targeting.
And here is one last example. We have two compelling messages: “Rad is trying to reach females, ages 18 to 40.” and “Rad is trying to reach people whose primary location is Tunisia.”. So what we have here is Interest Targeting.
Don’t forget to also check the following:
– Is engagement (likes, comments, and sharing) important?
– And also the usual: advertising format, message, marketing offers, etc.
You’ll be able to understand what works or doesn’t work for your competitors and use this knowledge for your ad.
Pretty convenient, huh? 😉
Note: Facebook limits the number of times per day/hour of this feature, after studying about a dozen ads this way, you can expect to receive an error notification.
Other ways to find inspiration
AdEspresso Ads Gallery
Adespresso is a Facebook advertising creation tool, which has been acquired by Hootsuite in 2017.
They offer a free list of hundreds of ads from many industries.
AdEspresso analyzes many ads of different types (Photo ads, Video ads, Carousel ads, Slideshow ads, Collection ads, Instant Experience ads, etc.) and explains in detail what is so great about each ad.
It is not possible to filter this page by industry but it remains a very good source of inspiration if you’re running dry!
Facebook Creative Hub
Another great place to find inspiration to create your ads is Facebook Creative Hub. There, you will see how talented advertisers are using all the different Facebook formats.
What can you do with this information?
Be inspired by other advertisers’ ads
It’s sometimes hard to find creative content ideas. 😖
When you advertise on social media, you can’t just rely on just one image and one copy. To maximize your chances of crafting engaging and effective creative content, you have to test several variations of the same ad (at least 5, I would advise). And even if you find content that performs well, you need to renew it quite often to avoid boring your audience.
It can be a bit of a headache to come up with fresh content on a regular basis…
That’s why reviewing other advertiser’s ads can be so useful. It can allow you to spot a good idea or a nice wording from an advertiser who is in a completely different market of yours.
Remember that the most important is for you to stay true to your brand and to remain relevant to your target. Plagiarizing is never a good idea. Especially if you’re copying a competitor. What we are talking about here is getting inspired, use some ideas or elements in a smart way.
Don’t forget to study their landing pages
In addition to studying their ads’ copy and images, it’s super important to study their landing pages as well.
What makes an ad work or not is the whole tunnel and not just the ad itself!
Whether you are using Facebook Ad Library or just consulting ads that pop up in your feed, clicking on the link will take you to the ad’s destination page.
Here is what you should study first:
– Do they follow best practices for their Landing Page?
– What is the page’s main title and its relation to the ad?
– What is their unique offer, and is it better than what you offer?
– Is there a lot of text or a little text? What is the size of the page? What are the CTAs?
– Is there a discount? A special offer?
Spy on your competitors’ advertising strategy
The nice thing about knowing well your competitors’ Facebook ads is that you can decide what direction you want to give to your campaigns: you can decide to create ads that are similar to your competitor or go the opposite direction to differentiate yourself.
Here is what you can learn from researching a competitor’s ads:
– Their advertising goals: Even if Facebook doesn’t explicitly display the campaign objective of our competitor’s active ads, you can deduce from the copy of these ads whether it has rather a notoriety approach, an acquisition strategy, or focuses on conversion. Does it promote its content? Is it lead generation? Is it a retargeting strategy?
– The product(s) that is/are being promoted: If your competitor sells multiple products, you can see which one(s) they are pushing.
– The number of ads they promote simultaneously: Even if the number of active ads is not necessarily correlated to the amount of the advertising budget, the volume of ads can give an indication of the efforts made by your competitor on the Facebook Ads channel.
– The kind of testing they do: By having access to all of a competitor’s active ads, you are able to know how many variations of the same ad they are running, i.e. better understand their A/B testing strategy. For the same ad, how many images? For the same text, how many titles? Etc.
– Their most performing ads: Which ads have been running for a long time? If you see ads that have been running for several months, it’s probably because these ads are performing well.
You are now unstoppable to spy the competition! But remember that something that works for your competitors might not work for you …
There is only one way to be sure: Try it out!