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Jono DuguidSep 13, 2021 2:14:00 PM10 min read

This is how you use the social media ads of your competitors for your own marketing success

Ad optimization tests are becoming more and more challenging as social media platforms continue to evolve. However, since more than two-thirds of digital advertising expenditure is now flowing into Facebook and Google, optimization on these social media channels is becoming increasingly important.‍

How do Facebook Ads work?

Have you ever Instagram and Facebook adstried out? Then you surely know how complicated it really is to hit the right nerve - and that it can cost you thousands of francs if you get it wrong.

One Study by the Boston Consulting Group shows that only 9% of marketers can accurately predict the impact of a 10% shift in their marketing spend.

The use of attribution and creative optimization is becoming increasingly important to understand complex customer journeys across mobile and desktop devices and different ad placements. For example, an ad with the Facebook Ads Manager appear in a variety of placements, such as about

  • in the Facebook News Feed
  • between Instagram Stories
  • in Instagram Reels
  • within Instant Articles

It is therefore essential to continuously work on your ad optimization and, among other things, take advantage of the new Facebook ad placement adjustment to achieve your goals.


Study the tactics of your successful competitors

By identifying the successful social media advertising tactics of your more established competitors, you can save yourself a lengthy trial and error process. And thanks to the Facebook ad library(Facebook Ad Library) this is easier than ever. Provided you know how.

In this article, you'll learn how to strategically gain insights from your competitor's ads to improve your own campaigns. You can be inspired by their ads and get fresh impetus.


It all started with the launch of Facebook Info and Ads

In recent years, Facebook has come under a lot of criticism – in terms of privacy, tracking and censorship.

There have been major data breaches where the accounts of half a billion Facebook users have been stolen. Personal information such as phone numbers and dates of birth were compromised.

As a result, many users of the social networking platform Facebook pushed to be more transparent. With the “Info and Ads” tab, the provider took a step towards more transparency.

And many advertisers took advantage of that. Because now it was possible to see the advertising campaigns of the competitors.


Today's equivalent is the Facebook Ads Library

Meanwhile, Facebook has replaced the "Info and Ads" tab with the "Ad Library". Today's equivalent is a full, searchable database, bringing even more transparency to the platform.

The Ad Library allows users - and marketers - to easily see both the active and inactive ads across all Facebook Pages. Also, these ads will remain in the ad library for 7 years.

Facebook said: "We believe that when you visit a page or see an ad on Facebook, it should be clear who it's from. We also believe it's important for people to be able to understand each other See ads on a page, even if they're not directed at you."


What information is visible in the Facebook Ads Library?

What makes the advertising library so valuable is that it is accessible to everyone. It offers a lot of insightful information about the ads a Page is running on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and the Audience Network:

  • you may see multiple versions of the ad
  • the start date when it started running
  • the linked target landing page
  • the ads filtered by country and platform

1. How to Spy on Facebook Ads Strategies

First, find the brand you are interested in and go to their Facebook page. Now all you have to do is follow these 3 steps:

  • Scroll down a little further until you see the Page Transparency section. On the desktop, this is in the left sidebar.
  • Click View All. Here you can see page info such as when the page was created and where the people who manage it are located geographically.
  • Click on the "To the advertising library" button.

From here you can let your curiosity run wild. Filter by platform (Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network, or Messenger), impressions by date, or even by specific keywords. Below you will also find similar regional advertisements.

Clicking "Learn more" in a particular ad will take you to the specific landing page that the ad is targeting. The “View ad details” button hides more information about the specific ad.


2. Would you like to see your competitors' ads directly in the Instagram app?

If you're more active on Instagram than Facebook, you might only want to see the ads your competitor is running on Instagram. You can also spy on the advertising of your competitors directly in the Instagram app.

And it goes like this:

  • Go to your competitor's Instagram profile.
  • Tap on the 3 horizontal dots in the top right corner of the screen.
  • Press "About this account"

In addition to general account information such as joining date, location and old user name, you will also find the active advertisements here. Again, you can filter by social media platforms, impressions by date, and keywords.


3. How does it all work on LinkedIn?

Even more obviously, you get to your competitors' ads on the social networking platform for business connections: LinkedIn.

  • Go to your competitor's business profile.
  • Click Posts
  • Click on "Show"

Now you can view all of the brand's current ads. At LinkedIn however, there is no detailed filter function as with Facebook ads and Instagram advertising. Nevertheless, this insight also offers interesting comparison possibilities of different ad types.


5 ways to gain strategic insights from your competitor's ads

You are now wondering what exactly all this is supposed to bring you? Spying on your competitors' ads is not only interesting, but also offers significant advantages when developing your own cost-saving and at the same time promising social media marketing strategy.

We do not advise clumsy copying of your competitors. Rather, this spying can help you improve existing campaigns and get fresh inspiration. This saves you a lengthy process with lots of trial and error. You take a shortcut to success, so to speak.

While it's not possible to see detailed information about an ad's targeting, engagement, or advertising budget, we do share some tips on how to use these insights strategically.


1. Effective advertising design with images and videos

Without a doubt, the visual design of the ad – i.e. the media used such as images and videos – is the most important part of an ad. It's the first thing the viewer sees.

Powerful images are what make the viewer stop scrolling long enough to even read the ad copy. An engaging video not only drives engagement, but also leaves a lasting impression.

Pay close attention to the type of images your competitors are using. Does the photo only show the product? Or are the product photos combined with an additional lifestyle component? What is the lighting or graphics like?

Variations in imagery can be used to target different use cases and audiences. When looking at your competitors' ads, also look out for ads that contain the same text with different images.

You could come back at a later date to see which images they are still using and which ones they left out. From this it can be deduced which type of media performs best.


2. Attention-grabbing headlines

Variations in your ad headlines can help target content to different audiences. By labeling identical ads with different headlines, you can test which format works best.

Do attention-grabbing questions work better for you? Or rather meaningful requests?

The famous advertising tycoon David Ogilvy once remarked: "On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the text."


3. Captivating copywriting

How do your competitors write their marketing copy? What's her tone? Do they tell a long story or keep it short and sweet? Is the ad serious or humorous? Are emojis or special text formatting used?

Here, too, pay attention to differences in the displays in order to work out similarities. The most successful brands consistently present desirable benefits for their target audience in their ad copy instead of simply explaining features, functions and information.


4. Which call-to-action button works best?

Do you want to use your CTA button to initiate a direct request to purchase, or use a more subtle "Learn more" button?

Again, it's worth returning to your competitor's ads at a later date to see which call-to-action was more successful.


5. Offers and Deals

Identifying the types of offers your competitors offer can be a good place to start when creating your own product promotion.

Does the brand offer discount codes, free shipping, or other incentives? How are these presented? If they offer discounts, what percentage do they offer? Also, try to understand how your competitor is tying the promotion into their overall campaign.

Offering your customers a 10 percent discount for no reason is suspicious. Potential customers will wonder if you simply increased the price by 10 percent, only to then give "10 percent off".

Instead, communicate the real reason behind the actions and gain credibility by doing so.


Why should you use social media marketing at all?

There is no doubt that the business and retail world is changing faster than ever and it is up to every business to keep up with the current trends. Today, marketing and innovation go hand in hand. Anyone who does not stay up-to-date in online marketing will sooner or later fall by the wayside.

Stationary shops are increasingly experiencing a decline. Businesses need to adapt and convert online to generate new revenue. And so it is obvious that a dynamic social media marketing strategy makes more and more sense.

Let's look at the top 3 reasons for social media ads in 2021 according to Forbes Magazine and how you can benefit from these strategies.


Reason #1: Hyper-Target customers

Did you know that there are over a billion active users on Instagram? The exact demographics of these users are available to business owners and advertisers alike.

When you know who your target customer is, getting your ads in front of the right people is a critical part of the marketing process and saves you staggering amounts of wasted ad spend.

Users can based on

  • age
  • gender
  • location
  • interests
  • behavior
  • website Visits
  • email lists

and more to be categorized. This data is made available by Facebook (and therefore also Instagram) for advertising campaigns and can be used to display relevant information to relevant people.


Reason #2: Building audiences

Not only can you address specific target groups directly with your marketing, you can also save them as historical data and use them for future campaigns. Building a social audience and landing page audience is critical to the consistent success of your marketing efforts.

In plain English, when someone clicks on an ad, visits a landing page, or subscribes to email lists, they can be retargeted at a later date with contextual advertising and customized offers.


Reason 3: Tracking your ROI

Another important tool that comes from social media marketing is the ability to directly track the return on investment of your advertising campaigns. With Facebook, for example, this information is built directly into the Ads Manager platform.

  • can be viewed
  • the performance of your budget
  • the return on ad spend (ROAS)
  • the cost per purchase on your site
  • the cost per lead

This is extremely important for advertisers, as you can immediately understand how your ad spend is developing. This makes it possible to eliminate unsuccessful campaigns and scale well-performing campaigns to achieve even better results.

So if you get it right, that means: low ad spend and high return on sales. The typical return on ad spend is between 5x and 30x. If you manage to take a shortcut to advertising success through competitor espionage, the ROAS can even be as high as a factor of 75!


CONCLUSION: By optimizing ads, you develop a cost-saving and promising social media marketing strategy

A mature marketing strategy on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn is critical because it allows you to target specific users, build an audience database, and track your return on investment directly.

With our tips and tricks, you will be able to implement successful ads more quickly by copying the proven advertising tactics of your competitors and using them to your individual advantage.

We at R17 are always up to date when it comes to your digital marketing strategy! Would you like to save yourself the tedious digital marketing process and rather focus on your expertise as a business owner?

Then contact us today for a free analysis of your social media advertising strategy. If we are a good match, we will help you with optimized, profitable advertisements on the relevant social media platforms.


Jono Duguid

Senior Business Development Manager - 12yrs+ Experience in Digital Marketing