7 min read
The opinions of the employees of You are personal.
- Filter by impressions.
- Evaluate the type of medium.
- Pay attention to the duration.
As the CEO of an e-commerce advertising agency, I can tell you that one of the first questions a smart agency will ask you is, “Who are your biggest competitors?”
It’s a good question to ask yourself, and even better if you really know the answer. Knowing your competition is a critical part of building and growing a business. But to be successful, you not only need to know who your competitors are, but also what they are doing and why. Knowing how other companies in your industry are reaching customers, positioning products, and investing marketing dollars can be invaluable as you develop growth and marketing strategies to hack into your own business content.
In business, you can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on competitive research and analysis. You can hire consultancies, run focus groups, start surveys, and talk to loyal customers. everything can get pretty expensive pretty quickly.
If you’re not ready to invest that amount of money but still want to know what your competitors are doing and go beyond the bare minimum, I am happy to tell you that there is an easy and inexpensive way to get what you want:
You can spy on your competitors’ Facebook ads.
How to Find Your Competitors’ Facebook Ads
The idea of spying on your competitors may seem misleading at first, but it is a very common exercise performed by marketers around the world. In fact, Facebook itself is encouraging and allowing anyone to see the ads that companies and organizations post on the site.
In March 2019, Facebook launched a tool called Ads Library, which was aimed at promoting transparency on the platform and delivering on the promises they made after the 2016 US presidential election. The Ads Library allows anyone to search for and view all of the ads currently displayed on the site, including Instagram ads, whether or not you have a Facebook or Instagram profile.
The tool also allows you to search for active or inactive ads related to social issues, elections, or politics that have been published since May 2018.
There are other methods and tools that can be used to rate and analyze competing Facebook ads. However, I’ve found the Facebook Ad Library to be the easiest, most reliable option available.
It’s a simple and pretty solid tool that you can use to learn a lot about your competitors’ activities.
Photo: Austin Distel via Unsplash
Filter by impressions
One of the best features of the ad library is the ability to filter ads based on impressions. Facebook defines an impression as the number of times an ad appears on screen for the first time. If there are reputable competitors, they are likely to display a wide variety of ads. Filtering by impressions is an easy way to determine which are viewed and seen by the most people.
To filter by impressions, start by entering the name of the organization or company you want to see in the search bar and then select the Facebook page when it appears. Next, choose Filter by Impressions, then sort from highest to lowest. The list of active ads is displayed based on the filters you have enabled.
Rate the media type
You can also use Facebook’s ad library to determine what types of media your competitors are including in their ads. When setting up Facebook ads, you can choose from several formats including photos, videos, stories, slideshows, collections, and views.
If you are new to Facebook advertising, or have really just experimented with one format, the ad library can be a great tool for drawing inspiration so that you can finally start that Instagram Storie ad. All you have to do is list your top 5 competitors, search the library for their ads, and make a note of what format or what type of media they are using. Facebook even lets you know when an ad is showing multiple versions and shows you what’s different in each version. In most cases, different media or messages are a / b tested to determine which works best when displayed to viewers.
Messaging is another good element of ads to look out for, especially when evaluating competitors. When viewing your competitors’ Facebook ads, you need to pay attention to the headings they are using, the value support they are focusing on, the vulnerabilities they are addressing, and the call to action they are using. You want to get a good understanding of how your competitors and their products position themselves and what promises they may make to the people they want to reach.
By analyzing ads for news, you can create better ads for your business and audience. They know how to differentiate yourself or how to sound similar. This can be valuable in a number of ways when communicating with prospects and building trust.
Photo: Erik Mclean via Unsplash
Pay attention to the duration
Another way to get to know your competition better is to filter by duration. If you’re using the ad library, you can filter and go back up to 90 days to see which ads have been showing the longest. If you’re seeing ads that are still active but started more than 30 days ago, this is likely a good indication that those ads have performed well for your competitors.
To get a better idea of how long your ads have been running, switch from filtering by impressions to filtering by time. You can filter to see only the ads that were posted in the last day, last 7 days, last 30 days, or last 90 days.
Look for big trends
If you’re seeing similar trends and ads across multiple competitors, it’s probably worth trying a similar ad for your own business. And you don’t just stay on Facebook either. You can use what you learned to test out Snapchat ads, Pinterest ads, or many other channels. When looking for general topics or repeating trends on pages, look for images, news, offers, and calls to action. You should also pay special attention to ads that appear on a holiday, time of year, or any specific day of the year that is most important to your customers. Then just take what you’ve learned and apply it to your own brand to see how it goes down with your audience.