How to Find Competitors Facebook Ads (and Use them to Your Advantage)
When it comes to crafting an industry leading Facebook ads strategy, it’s important to take stock of how your competitors are using the platform.
Understanding your competitor's strategies might sound time-consuming… and I hear you, “research” might not be one of the most fun tasks on your to-do list, but it’s an essential part of any great strategy.
Let me explain…
Understanding how your competitors are using Facebook ads can help you:
This information can help you to enhance your own strategy and create highly-profitable ads.
Let me walk you through the best tactics and tools to research your competitors Facebook ads.
1. Facebook’s Info and Ads tool
What if I told you can look at every ad your competitors are currently running on Facebook? And as a bonus: What if I said that it takes just a few clicks?
Yep, it’s that easy.
As a way to increase transparency, Facebook allows users to view all ads a Page is currently running via the “Info and Ads” tab.
Here’s how it works:
1. Simply visit any Page. For this example, we’ll use Outback Steakhouse:
2. Click “Info and Ads” in the left-side menu:
3. You can now see any ads that Page is running:
2. AdEspresso’s Facebook Ad Examples
The team at AdEspresso has collected more than 170,000 Facebook ad examples from a range of industries.
You can search the database for ads specific to your industry and even search by brand name to single out competitors from within your niche. You can also filter results by placements and objectives if you’re looking for specific types of ads.
For example, searching for ‘sneakers’ returns some brilliant ad examples:
Once you’ve found an ad that you’re keen to dig deeper into, you can click on it to view an embedded version of the advert, the copy used, and the placement details.
3. Facebook’s “Why Am I Seeing This?” feature
Every ad you see on Facebook contains a goldmine of data about how that advertiser is reaching you.
To access it, simply click on ‘...’ icon in the top right corner of an advert and click the “Why am I seeing this?” option.
From here you can see why that ad is showing up within your feed. For example, I was shown the above advert from Moo.com because they are targeting a lookalike audience and I share some common traits with its customers:
Using this simple trick you can start to unravel your competitors Facebook ads targeting strategies.
There isn’t an exact science to this as the Facebook algorithm is pretty complex. But a couple of ways you can encourage ads from your competitors to show up in your feed include:
1. Liking competitor Pages and ads
Many advertisers target their ads towards people who already like their Page and this is a good way to send signals to Facebook that you’d like to see content from this brand in your feed. If you also engage with their ads (react, click, comment) when you see them there’s a chance they’ll show up in your feed more often.
2. Visiting competitor sites
Checkout out your competitors’ websites is another great way to send signals to Facebook that you’d like to see their content, and with many brands running re targeting ads to website visitors this
3. Joining mailing lists
Many advertisers target Facebook users based on existing email and customer lists their email. For example, these are all advertisers who advertise to me based on my details being a part of their list:
If you sign up to your competitor's mailing lists, there’s a higher chance you’ll see their ads (if they use this type of targeting), plus you can also keep an eye on their email marketing strategies at the same time. Win-win!
So we now know how to spy on your competitors Facebook Ads, it’s time to put that new-found data into action. Here are four steps to using this information to grow your business:
1. Know what you want to learn
Before you start your competitor research, think about what you want to achieve from this work.
If you go into research without clear goals, you can waste hours of valuable time gaining insights that won’t benefit your business.
Set 1-3 clear goals, and focus your research on those goals specifically.
For example, you might want to look at how your competitors are using video ads to boost product awareness.
In this case, you might want to specifically analyze things like:
Knowing your goals will enable you to remain laser-focused during your research to ensure you’re not wasting time researching every single detail about every competitor’s ad.
2. Click-through to landing pages
Successful Facebook advertising campaigns revolve around much more than just the ad you put together and publish — the landing page that you drive traffic to also plays a major role in your conversion and success rates.
With each ad, you see, ensure you click-through to the landing page and see how your competitors are guiding customers through their funnel to making a purchase.
For example, this advert from Sleeknote talks about a feature of its product:
And drives traffic to a landing page specifically focused on the feature from the ad:
If you look closely at that landing page you can also begin to see how it tries to convert website visitors into users. There are two CTAs on the page as soon as you visit (and these remain visible as you scroll):
And more CTAs appear as you progress through the page:
When you’re looking at competitor landing pages, think about:
3. Run experiments based on your research
Your research will help you generate a number of hunches about what will work for your business on Facebook ads, but we can’t rely on those entirely.
Take what you’ve learned from your competitors and create a number of experiment ideas that you can test.
A simple way to frame experiments is this formula:
If we (experiment idea),
then (expected results),
If we create short 10-second video ads,
then can build an audience of people to retarget with bottom-of-the-funnel ads,
because video ads get more engagement than other ad-types and we’ve seen this work for [competitor].
If we target ads to our previous customers,
then we can increase the lifetime value (LTV) of a customer and encourage repeat purchases,
because we know these people are happy to buy from us, so will be more receptive to sales-focused, bottom-of-the-funnel ads.
Use this framework to generate as many ideas as you can come up with — go wild (but aim for at least 20). Remember: sometimes the best ideas are the ones that aren’t so obvious.
Once you have a list of ad experiments, prioritize them so that you know where to get started.
One way to prioritize experiments is by using “ICE” scores. ICE stands for impact, confidence, ease:
Give every experiment a score out of 10 for each of these categories and the experiments with the highest scores are the ones you should prioritize first.
You’re all set, but remember…
You’re now all set to dive head-first into your competitors Facebook Ads and research what makes them successful (plus where they could improve… no brand is perfect, right?).
But remember: What you learn here should just be a guideline to help you formulate your Facebook ads strategy. What works for your competitors, won’t automatically work for you.
Use your leanings to generate some ideas and experiments that you can put into action to figure out what works best for your business.