How To See Your Competitor's Facebook & Instagram Ads

How To See Your Competitor's Facebook & Instagram Ads

Jun 30, 2021 12 min read

Creating a winning ad is not as easy as it looks. You don't just want to create another "ad." Instead, you want to make the one that drives conversions.

But the fact being that high-performing ads are challenging to create and require a lot of testing in terms of what your audience likes to see. Competitor's ad analysis is a smart way to know the winning strategies adopted by top brands of your industry.

Your competitors have applied tons of resources into finding out their best-performing ads. So why not borrow the creative strategies from your competitor's high-performing ads and customize them according to your USP.

This guide will help you analyze your competitor's top-performing Facebook and Instagram ads so that you can easily spit the trends to build better and successful ads for your campaign.

You can directly jump to a section of your choice or keep scrolling.

How Can Spying On Your Competitor's Ads Help?

Decrease your experiments

The ad campaign landscape is highly competitive and is constantly changing. There is no fixed strategy for running a successful and highly converting campaign; the only way is experimentation. However, trying and testing different methods for too long can consume your time and resources at the expense of not driving revenue.

If you keep an eye on your competitor's ads, you can get to know which of their ads are performing best. You can learn a lot from their experiments. You will have to decode their best and high-performing ads to find the successful aspects of those ads.

Since you and your competitors will be targeting the same audience base, there is a high possibility that the underlying aspects of your competitor’s ads will attract the audience to your ads as well when you adopt them.

You don't have to do the experimentation if you analyze a well-established competitor.

Helps to rank for keywords

The core purpose of running ad campaigns remains to help your target audience find your website when they are looking for solutions that you are selling. And for that, your website and ad content should be keyword-focused.

Doing a competitor ad analysis helps you identify such industry-specific keywords so that your ads can rank for them in google searches.

Remember, your competitors will also be trying to rank for the same industry-specific keywords. Therefore, by spying on your competitor's ads, you can formulate the long-tail keywords using which you can differentiate your products and services from your competitors and rank for them.

Helps you understand your audience base

Competitor's ad analysis helps you learn the success strategies and failure reasons of your competitor's ad. You will be able to establish the reason behind the failure of unsuccessful ads, which remains an important lesson for you since you get to know what is not liked by your audience.

Based on this analysis, you will be able to forecast the critical assets and skills needed to beat your competitors.

How To Spy On Your Competitor’s Facebook Ads?

Let us walk through the two tactics using which you can research and start spying on Facebook ads of your competitor.

Method #1: Using Facebook Ad Library

What if you were able to look at every single Facebook ad that your competitors are currently running on Facebook within just a few clicks? Facebook Ad Library helps you exactly do that.

There are two ways to visit the Facebook Ad Library.

Medium #1

You may remember how Facebook got in trouble a few years back for not being completely transparent about who was behind some of their ads and pages. This lead Facebook to add a "Page Transparency" section to every page (which earlier used to be called "Info and Ads.")

Here's how you can locate your competitor's "Page Transparency" section

  1. Navigate to your competitor’s Facebook page.
  2. Scroll down until you see a "Page Transparency" section within the left-side column.

Page Transparency Facebook

Image Source: Shopify Facebook

  1. Click on "See All," and a window will open up with several details about the page like the ones listed below.
  • Organizations that manage the page
  • The primary location for people who manage the page
  • The page creation date
  • If the page has been renamed anytime
  • If the page has been merged with any other Facebook page
  1. At the bottom of this window, you'll see an "Ads from this Page" section. Click "Go to Ad Library." You'll be brought to the Facebook Ad Library page of your competitor. Here, you will see a list of active and inactive ads that your competitor had run for this page.

Page Transparency Facebook

Image Source: Shopify Facebook

Medium #2

This method allows you to locate the Facebook Ad Library directly, without first visiting your competitor's page.

Visit Facebook Ad Library enter the name of your competitor in the search bar, and you will be taken to your competitor's Facebook Ad Library page.

Facebook Ad Library

Image Source: Facebook Ad Library

Now you are all set to start spying on Facebook ads of your competitors.

How to spy your competitor's Facebook ads on mobile devices

  1. To spy on your competitor's Facebook ads, open their page on your device, scroll down, and you will be able to see a "Page Transparency" section.

Page Transparency Facebook

Image Source: Etsy Facebook

  1. Now you need to click on "See All," the page transparency menu will open up where you need to scroll down further until you find "Go to Ad Library."

Page Transparency Facebook

Image Source: Etsy Facebook

  1. Once you click on this option, you will be directly taken to your competitor's Facebook ads library page.

Walkthrough of Facebook Ad Library

You can sort the ads by country, impressions by date, keywords, media type, platform, and active and inactive ads.

Facebook Ad Library Filters

You will be able to see a list of your competitor's ads according to the filters applied. You also get to know when your competitor has started running a particular ad and its multiple versions. Click on the "See Details" button to find other versions of dynamic ads.

Facebook Ad Library

Note: An essential filter here is media because you can view your competitor's Facebook and Instagram ads through the Facebook Ad Library (since Facebook owns Instagram now.) Hence, if you wish to view your competitor's Facebook ads, you need to select Facebook in this filter.

You can scroll through the ads and switch to different countries to see how many ads your competitors are running in different countries. The countries for which you will find maximum ads can be interpreted as a location being targeted by your competitors. Also, pay attention to the kind of ads run by your competitors, is it customer-focused or product-focused?

While you won't be able to see how the ads are performing in terms of engagements, you can see where the ads are leading you to. For example, are they taking you to a product page or being directed to a dedicated landing page?

Protip: Since landing pages are your workhorse and they can make or break your campaign, it's better to create a dedicated landing page for ad campaigns (you will observe top brands in your industry doing the same when you will be spying on their Facebook ads.)

You can easily estimate if your competitors are spending too much or little on ad campaigns based on the number of active ads they are currently running. If you find that your competitor is running only a few ads, that means they probably are spending far less than your competitor, who is running hundreds of ads at present.

Get an insight into how many paid ads they run versus organic posts. This will give you a sense of whether they focus more on organic marketing or paid marketing.

Find out their purpose behind running specific ads. For example, are they running these ads for increasing brand awareness, for selling particular products, for running discounts, offers, and special codes, or is it a part of their retargeting campaign?

This analysis will form the very first step and a strong foundation for creating highly conversational ads. However, now that you have explored how to use the Facebook Ad Library, it's important to call out that you shouldn't be putting the exact same aspect of their well-performing into your campaign. Neither will this help you nor is this a good practice to follow.

What Facebook Ad Library Does Not Show?

While the Facebook Ad Library can give you interesting insights about your competitor's ads, here's what you can't get to know from the library.

  • How the ads are doing in terms of engagement?
  • Specific budget allocation
  • Precise statistical insights
  • Downloading performance reports

Users on ProductHunt pointed out that not all of the ads their business was currently running were showing up in the search results of Facebook Ad Library.

Method #2: Gain Targeting Insights using "Why Am I Seeing This Ad?"

This method contains a goldmine of data about how the particular ad reached out to you. This simple trick can help you to unravel your competitor's Facebook ad targeting strategies.

But, you can only benefit from this feature if you can view your competitor's ad in your Facebook feed. You will be able to see your competitor's ads in your feed when you share some common traits with the audience that they are targeting.

So first, let's see how you can view your competitor's ads within your feed.

  1. Visit your competitor's Facebook page and spend some time there. Engage with their content, like their post, or leave a comment. This is an excellent way to let Facebook know that you would like to see more content from this brand in your feed.
  2. Join your competitor's mailing list. Using this method, there are a lot of chances that you will see their ads because many brands target audiences from their mailing list.
  3. Locate your competitor's websites and view one or two of their product pages. Then wait for some time and open your Facebook feed. You might then be able to see some sponsored ads by your competitors then.

Note: These are just some ways of tricking Facebook pixel such that it can show your competitor's Facebook ads in your feed. Hence, one or more of these methods might not work sometimes.

Now that you have got hold of your competitor's sponsored ads follow the below steps to discover some practical takeaways from your competitor's ad.

  1. Go to the upper right corner of the ad and click on the three horizontal dots.

Why Am I Seeing This Ad Facebook

  1. A drop-down menu will open up in which you need to select "Why am I seeing this?"

Why Am I Seeing This Ad Facebook

  1. A pop-up box will then open from where you can get to know the reasons why that ad was shown within your feed.

Why Am I Seeing This Ad Facebook

How To Spy On Your Competitor’s Instagram Ads?

  1. Go to your competitor's Instagram account. Tap on the three vertical dots on the top right-hand corner.

Active Ads Button Instagram

Image Source: Walmart Instagram

  1. From the pop-up menu opened up, tap on "About This Account."

Active Ads Button Instagram

Image Source: Walmart Instagram

  1. You will find a bunch of helpful information about the account, like which country the account is based on, data of creation of the account. Our interest lies in ads so you need to tap on "Active Ads," it will take you to the Facebook Ad Library.

Active Ads Button Instagram

Image Source: Walmart Instagram

  1. Since our interest lies in analyzing Instagram ads, you can see them by clicking on filters -> platform -> Instagram. Once you click on Instagram, go back and click on "Apply" to apply filters. Now you will only see Instagram ads.

Facebook Ad Library

Observe what your competitors are creating more on Instagram. Is it carousels, images, or videos? You can get inspired by different formats of each type.

Observe the kind of copy they are using and how they hook their audience. By observing this, you can get inspiration for your own content and ads.

What To Observe While Spying Your Competitor’s Ads?

By spying on Facebook and Instagram ads of your competitors, you can quickly analyze their social media strategy.

Here are the aspects you need to look for while spying on Facebook ads and Instagram ads of your competitors to perform the reverse engineering of your competitor's paid ads and find their targeting strategy.

Images

  • Are they using stock images or designing their own images?
  • Are they including text over images? If so, then what kind of text are they putting over the image?
  • See if your competitors are using CTAs in images. If yes, have they put CTA in the form of a button or text that forms a graphic part?
  • See if your competitors are following a particular color scheme or art style in their ads.
  • Observe the different angles of images used within social media's image constraint.
  • See what product features they are highlighting.
  • Are they featuring people in the images or just products?
  • Do they feature real things or more abstract imagery?

Copy

  • Are they writing in an informal tone or formal tone?
  • Are they asking a question or just telling?
  • Are they making use of emojis in the copy?
  • Some brands might even run ads in different languages to attract the attention of native language speakers. You will be able to observe the same by filtering ads according to country.
  • Are they using variants of ads to market the same product?

Here's an example of ad variants testing by the popular shoe brand Nike. They are running two different ads with the same image but different copies to see which one drives more results.

Facebook Ad Library

At the same time, they are also running two ads with the same heading but different images to see which one drives more results.

Facebook Ad Library

CTAs

  • See how your competitors are encouraging the readers to move to the next steps.
  • Are they offering discounts, free services, offers, or special packages?
  • How often are they running offers, sales, and discounts?
  • Which kind of offers are they are promoting? - Are they promoting discount codes, discounts based on the amount, discounts based on percentage, discounts for returning buyers or first-time buyers?
  • Do they write "Shop now" or "Learn more"?
  • Are they creating urgency in the text, like "Get them now before they run out"?
  • Are they using customer testimonials or any social proof?

Date and time

See if your competitors follow a pattern of publishing the ads in terms of date and time to get more significant engagements.

Get to know how long your competitors have been running different ads. Once you catch an ad that they have been running for a long, it indicates their successful messaging and targeting insights. After all, why would they keep an ad active for so long if that wasn't making money?

Engagements

  • What type of post has more engagements?
  • Which ads drew the most discussions?
  • What have people been saying in the comment section?
  • The ad which has the highest engagement has the most significant impact on the audience.
  • Also, look at the reactions, comments, and shares on ads. This will help you know which of their creative aspects is liked more by the audience.

While spying on Facebook ads of your competitors, follow their marketing funnels. Draw meaningful inferences from these analyses and you would be able to identify what works best to draw the attention of your audience.

Now, by adding your own USP and design to your ad campaign, keeping the same strategies, you will be able to design a campaign that brings a significant amount of conversion.

Manage Your Ad Campaign Effortless With Statusbrew

Now that you know it requires serious attention to your competitor's ad analysis to pick and derive a high conversion ad campaign, you need to shift your time and attention from ad management and let it be taken care of by a tool. Statusbrew is an easy and intuitive social media ad management tool that helps you reach a new audience and grow brand awareness. Here's how Statusbrew can assist you in ad campaigns.

  • Easy to use calendar helps you visualize a complete timeline of all your ads allowing you to reimagine content planning.
  • Smoothly schedule ads and choose your budget and boosting criteria while planning Facebook ads.
  • Generate insights to analyze the performance of your organic v/s paid ads.
  • Create automatic private replies for user comments, posts, and private messages.
  • Statusbrew's ad comment management feature helps hide, delete, or disable unwanted comments on your regular and dynamic ads manually or automatically.

Want to discuss further? Book a free demo or start your free trial today!

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Rushali Das

Rushali is a content writer at Statusbrew. She is fond of writing content that compels people to slow down and look more closely to discover the unknown stories.