Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you know that Facebook Ads have become crucial to the growth of many B2C and B2B companies. In fact, 93% of marketers now use Facebook advertising regularly. And while that doesn’t mean that everyone is using them properly or optimally, it does mean that everyone wants a piece of the Facebook Ads pie.
If you’re reading this and you’re brand new to Facebook Ads, the topic in itself is a bit of a beast, which is why it’s usually in your best interest to have an expert run your ads if you’re really looking to capitalize on them. If you’re someone who is looking to get started in learning how it all works, or maybe you just want to try your hand at some yourself before going the expert route, then I’d highly recommend checking out Facebook Blueprint – Facebook’s free learning resource on the topic.
Now back to the point of this article.
If you’ve ever wondered what your competitors are up to in the land of Facebook Ads, you have a couple of free options to uncover clues about their strategy. Unfortunately to the best of my knowledge, one of these is only available in Canada so far, so if you’re not Canadian and reading this, I’m sorry. Bad puns aside, the fact that this capability is available in Canada should hopefully mean that it will roll out in other countries soon.
Method 1 – Spy on Active Ads and Creative
This is the tactic referred to above as being only available in Canada so far. It allows you to view the copy and image (or collectively, the creative) of any ads that your competitors are currently running. Simply type in facebook.com/insertpagenamehere/ads. And bam, you will now see a feed of every ad said page is currently running. For example, go to https://www.facebook.com/pg/JustinPJTrudeau/ads/ and you will be able to see all of the ads currently running by the current Prime Minister of Canada. Pretty neat, eh?
So, how is this helpful? Well, if you know for certain that the company is successful, perhaps has more expertise behind their ads, and/or is after a very similar target audience as yourself, it could provide insight into copy and image selections that might be worth trying out for your own ads. It also helps to provide more transparency in advertising.
Now, of course, the downside to this is that you won’t be able to see who exactly they’re targeting, nor will you be able to see how successful each of these ads is.
Method 2 – Spy on Targeting
This method uncovers targeting information but relies on your competitor’s ads popping up in your news feed. If you’re not a part of your competitor’s target market, this may be tricky to make happen, however, here are a couple of things you can do to help the cause:
- Visit their website and click around a bit. If they sell products, go to a couple of product pages too. This will help put you in their advertising audience if they’re targeting their ads by way of their pixel.
- Sign up for their email list with the same email address you signed up to Facebook with. Luckily, this will often be a personal email address, so you can hopefully keep your identity disguised at least a bit as it won’t be a company email address. If they are creating custom audiences based off of email addresses, you should be included.
Once you see an ad in your news feed that you want more information about the targeting for it, simply click the three dotted menu in the upper right corner of the ad:
Then, select “Why am I seeing this?” from the drop-down menu:
And lastly, the targeting info is revealed:
From the above, we can see that the advertiser is retargeting people who have visited their website, and is choosing to target only people aged 27 and older with this particular ad.
Other times when you do this, you will also see other targeting such as gender, interests, and other settings. Obviously though, if you don’t fall into the age or gender category that they’re targeting, you’re not going to see the ads in this manner no matter how hard you try. In this case, you may have to enlist the help of friends or co-workers.
Do these methods have limitations? Oh absolutely. Are these methods helpful in uncovering some insight into how you might be able to apply certain aspects of your competitor’s strategy to your own? Definitely. Should you copy your competitors? Hell no. Simply use what you find as inspiration to try out something you may not have thought of previously. Again, you cannot see the results their ads have received, and even if you could, it’s far from certain that what they’re doing is going to be successful for you anyway.
There were also many paid services that promised to give you even further insight, however, I believe Facebook has really been cracking down on these service providers lately, as a number of them have had to shut their doors, such as whichadswork.com.
Found this helpful? Give it a share on social media or leave a comment below to let me know! And if you have any other tips or insight on this topic, I would love to hear it below in the comments section.
If you’re interested in having someone implement and manage Facebook Ads for you, shoot me a message about your business and needs over at the bottom of my services page.