Are you keeping tabs on your competitor’s ads on Facebook?
Do you want to know your competitor’s Facebook advertising strategy so you can either model theirs or design one to counter theirs?
Of course, you can’t gain access into your competitor’s business/ad manager account. Therefore, we will have to use a little reverse engineering to make this strategy work.
In this article, I’ll show you the 3 surprising ways that will allow you to scope out the competition…plus a bonus (you can find the bonus at the bottom of this post)! You might discover some things that you didn’t know before this.
3 Guilt-Free Ways to Discover what your Competitors are doing
1. AdEspresso’s Facebook Ads Gallery
AdEspresso’s Facebook Ads Gallery is a tool where you’ll see a vast collection of ad examples for FREE. It is updated with new ads every 30 minutes which is pretty incredible!
And best of all, everyone can access this tool, even if you’re not a user of AdEspresso. It lets you search their database with thousands of real world Facebook Ads! Sounds great right?
How it works
The screenshot below shows you the homepage of the Ad Gallery. It’s pretty straightforward so it would be easy for you to see what other advertisers (including your competitors) Facebook ads.
The Anatomy of Facebook Ads Gallery
1 - Search - Key in phrases that best describe the ad you’re looking for. You can also put the name of the advertiser and Facebook page URL.
2 - Placements - There are 3 main placements for Facebook advertising. You have your native ads on desktop and mobile, and you have your right hand side ads.
3 - All Industries - Filter your result by industry. For example, if you’re looking for ads that are about fashion and beauty, choose Fashion & Beauty.
4 - Objectives - Filter your result by objective. For example, if you’re looking for ads with an objective of brand awareness, choose “brand awareness”. Or if you’re looking for Page Like ads, choose ‘Page Likes’.
5 - Attributes - This option is very helpful if you want to look for ads that have specific components. I used this option when I was looking for split test ads to feature in my previous blog post.
That’s it. If you’re done, hit the ‘Find Ads Now!’ button.
Are you curious what the results will look like?
Here it is. There are more than 11,000 real life Facebook ads available to you.
Once you see some results, click on any example. Once you click on the ad, you’ll go to a page where you’ll see the information about the ad. Here’s how the Zipcar ad looks like:
Not only do you get to see the Ad, but you’ll also be able to click through and look at the landing page that these ads serve to. It’s a great way to understand the message and conversion funnel that your competitors are using!
2. Retargeting the private investigator’s way!
Have you ever checked out a product on Etsy, only to see it on Facebook moments later?
Facebook knew that you visited Etsy because Etsy placed a snippet of Facebook code on its site. This then lets Etsy automatically show you an ad based on the URL you visited.
So even though you didn’t buy the product, Etsy still has a chance to turn you into a customer well after your visit to their site.
While Etsy has whopping monthly visitors, this strategy will work for any amount of traffic – even if you only have 100 visitors per month.
There are two ways how your competitor may implement retargeting in their campaign.
Retargeting Website Visitors
How it works
First, visit your competitor’s website. In this case, I presumed that I am running a legal startup and Dragon Law is my competitor. So I visited Dragon Law’s website.
Second, check if they have a pixel installed using the Pixel Helper.
Then, go to your Facebook newsfeed, click on refresh several times, and wait for their ad to come up. Yes, it’s as primitive as this!
Since Facebook has multiple possible ad placements, your competitor’s ads may appear somewhere that you don’t expect. The ad may appear in your desktop news feed, mobile news feed, or right hand side depending on how they configure the ad placement.
Tip: If you keep seeing the same few ads on the right hand column of your news feed, try going to your personal profile and look at the right hand column.
The most popular placement for retargeting ads these days is the right hand column.
Desktop News Feed Targeting
The image below shows the ad of the Dragon Law that appeared on my desktop news feed.
Mobile News Feed Targeting
The image below shows the ad of the Dragon Law that appeared on my mobile news feed.
Right Hand Side Targeting
The image below shows the ad of the Dragon Law that appeared to the right hand side.
From what I see, it’s likely that they’re merely testing different ad images, while keeping their headline, body copy, and placement intact. In other words, they’re not testing any of these elements apart from the image at the moment.
Now, you may still want to confirm if you’re being retargeted or if Facebook is just showing you one of their ads because you recently visited their website and that act alone displayed an “interest” signal to Facebook.
Here’s how you can do it:
Click on the X on the top right corner of the ad and you’ll be presented with several options. Then click the option “Why am I seeing this?
From here, you’ll be given a lightbox popup with information about the ad. Let’s see how Dragon Law targeted me.
From this piece of information, I can now confirm that Dragon Law indeed retargeted me.
Retargeting Email List
Similar to retargeting website visitors, displaying Facebook ads to members of your mailing list can also be a Facebook advertising strategy.
How it works
First, visit your competitor’s website. Then look for a lead magnet or email sign up form and sign in.
I will use the DIY Video Guy by Caleb Wojcik just as an example. The website has a lead magnet where you will be asked to input your email address. Wait for the confirmation email where you’ll need to click a confirmation link. Once you confirmed your email, you are now officially included in the email list.
Your competitor may have created an ad where it targets the members in its mailing list. And if you are one of the members of the mailing list, you’ll see that ad.
Likewise, when you see an ad from someone who you just subscribed to, you can also click on the “X” on the top right corner of the ad and find out if you’re being retargeted.
The third way I’m about to share with you is a paid tool. It is similar to the idea of AdEspresso’s free ad gallery.
SocialAdNinja has a database of 400,000 social ads. It’s a great tool for monitoring local and international Facebook ads.
How it works
You can initially search ads by ad title, ad link, and ad copy. But it’s even cooler because of these features:
- Search global ads so you can get enough inspiration from the ads available in 43 countries.
- Filter results by gender, age, marital status, and country so you can identify ads targeting your key demographic.
- Uncover URL redirect link to find out which links they point to.
SocialAdNinja is a great tool if you are spending a significant amount of money on Facebook advertising. There’s only one membership which is $147 per month. Definitely worth it if you are a serious Facebook advertiser spending more than $10,000 a month.
Let the spying begin
There you have it – 3 not-so-sneaky ways to use Facebook to learn more about your competitors and their Facebook advertising strategy.
Spying on your competitors is an essential part of the game so use them wisely & you can tweak your Facebook advertising strategy based on information about your competitors.
If you want to learn 3 other ways you can SPY on your competitors OUTSIDE of Facebook and rip those ideas off for your own Ad Campaign, download our Bonus Spy Guide:
Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite way to spy on your competition on Facebook? Have you found any key strategy you can apply from watching your competitors? Share your ideas with me in the comments section below!