If you know what your competitors are doing, you can identify their winning strategies and use them to your benefit.
Lucky for us, Meta makes it easy to do just that with Facebook Ad Library: a database of all ads on Facebook and Instagram.
Ad Library is a way to see what’s working (and what isn’t) for other brands’ Social Media Marketing (SMM). You can use it to find fresh, effective ideas for your own marketing strategies without spending a cent.
In this article, we explain how Facebook Ad Library is; how you should and shouldn’t use it; how it can help 10x your marketing results.
What Is Facebook Ad Library?
The Facebook ad library was initially created to promote transparency in advertising, particularly around social issues. It allows you to see the advertisements being run by a brand on Facebook and Instagram.
Marketers can use the Ad Library to see…
- Ad creative used by competitors and top brands
- Ad campaigns from all around the world
- Deals and offers competitors are running
- Which calls-to-action are being used
- Which campaigns are still running – and which ones are offline
- And more
This can help you create better, more profitable campaigns while reducing Facebook ad costs.
And if you want to see the ads being run by political institutions – the original purpose of Ad Library – you can do that as well.
How to use Facebook ad library?
Accessing the Facebook Ad Library is easy. Follow these steps:
1. Go to facebook.com/ads/library
2. Choose country (or all countries) and ad category. For marketing purposes, we want the “all ads” category.
3. Use the search function to find specific keywords or pages. For example, writing “running shoes” will return ads about running shoes.
4. Click the “filter” button to refine results by platform, media type, activity, language, and more
Note two things. First, you can choose to see ads that are currently live as well as ads that have stopped running. Seeing which ads no longer run can be helpful; it lets you know which ad sets might no longer generate ROAS.
Also, note that the platforms may not mean what you think they mean. Here’s a helpful chart:
|Ads that run on Facebook feeds, sidebars, etc|
|Messenger||Ads that run on Facebook Messenger, but not on actual Facebook pages|
|Audience Network||Ads that run on Facebook Audience Network partner apps and websites|
|Ads that run on Instagram|
5. Click on “see ad details” to see a full ad with full creative, CTA copy, etc:
9 Tips for Beating the Competition with Facebook Ad Library
Facebook Ad Library can save you 4 and 5-figures in content creation, split tests, ideation, etc. But you have to use it the right way. Here are 9 tips to help you do just that; we’ve split them into “do’s” and “don’ts”.
The 6 Do’s of Facebook Ad Library
1. Identify what’s working for your competitors
While you can’t see specific data like Click Through Rate (CTR) or Cost Per Click (CPC), if a competitor is using a lot of one type of ad (video, image, etc.) it’s probably working well for them.
Same goes for ads that have been running for a while. Facebook Ad Library shows you how long an ad has been online. The longer it’s been running, the more likely it is to be doing well.
2. Get visual inspiration from other ads
Stealing ads from competitors can lead to negative publicity and dilute your brand.
Instead, pay attention to ads in other countries, niches, etc. There’s a good chance that they will have visual elements that you didn’t think of and can use for inspiration. This can mean new colorways, new layouts, etc.
And remember you don’t just have to reuse what you see in ads. You can turn insights into organic content (and content pillars) just as easily.
3. See which ads are running on which platforms
Some ad types work better on specific platforms. For example, successful ads on Instagram are almost entirely visual due to the nature of the platform.
Look at where your competitors run each ad. This will give you a strong idea of what your target audience likes and responds to on Instagram, Facebook, Audience Network, etc.
4. Analyse media types popular in your niche
Are your competitors using lots of videos? Infographics? Illustrations? Photos?
Pay attention to what they’re doing and experiment with the same media types.
For example, photos may be a thing of the post for most IG advertisers… But they still work well in many B2B niches. Analysing media types in competitors’ ads will keep you on top of trends like that.
5. Keep track of competitors’ offers
Knowing offers and discounts in your niche gives you a sense of the competitive landscape. If people are offering Christmas discounts, you might want to do that. Same for back-to-school giveaways, Black Friday deals, etc.
It also helps to see what the CTAs and links for each type of ad are. Is the competition taking people directly to sales pages – or top-of-funnel content? Are they drumming up sales or generating leads?
This can tell you a lot about the kinds of funnels popular in your niche.
6. See which ads are no longer running
If an ad is no longer running it might be because it’s not performing well anymore. You may want to stay away from similar types of ads and the offers they lead to.
The 6 Dont’s of Facebook Ad Library
1. Don’t steal competitors’ ads directly
Not only is this unethical, but stealing ads wholesale doesn’t work. Your ads have to be true to your brand, your audience, etc. Plus Facebook Ad Library doesn’t tell you who the competition is targeting – which is half of the picture.
2. Experiment before investing in anything you see
See a competitor running User-Generated Content ads on Instagram? Don’t invest too much money in creating equivalent ones.
Instead, start slowly with an inexpensive Minimum Viable Project (MVP). If that works, invest more money. Use what others are doing for inspiration, but not as a blueprint.
3. Don’t ignore your best instincts
The FB ad library is a booster for your ad efforts, not a replacement for them. You know your audience. You know what will resonate with them the most. Trust yourself over anyone else when creating new campaigns.
What doesn’t the FB ad library show you?
Why the Facebook ad library provides you with a lot of information, there’s also a lot that it doesn’t show you.
1. Target Audience
You don’t know the specific target audience an ad is targeting. You don’t know the age, demographics, interests, etc of the viewers.
You need to do the hard work of researching your target audience and crafting ad campaigns that connect with them yourself. This takes time and ad spend.
2. Ad Budget and Goals
You don’t know an ad’s budget and KPIs. An ad could be a major part of someone’s whole campaign – or insignificant and minor. It could be a major driver of sales – or a way to get someone to visit a website for later retargeting.
Don’t assume that an ad is important and profitable. It might be a small test ad with low ROI.
Why an Ad Works for the Competition
At the end of the day, you can’t know why an ad works (or doesn’t work) for someone. An ad that delivers incredible ROI for you could just not work for a competitor and vice versa.
FB ad library power tips
1. Look at other industries and geographic locations
Here’s a little secret. Competitors copy each others’ ads…A lot.
If you only study ads in your industry and geographic location you’re probably going to be seeing the same thing over and over. You won’t get much inspiration and you’ll end up creating ad campaigns that are no different than your competitors.
To get new ideas, look beyond your industry and locale into something completely new.
Explore industries and brands totally unrelated to yours. If you’re in construction, look at creative from IT companies. If you’re an IT company, look at e-commerce ads.
2. Identify winning combinations, not standalone elements
Look closely at how brands are creating unique ads for specific platforms, niches, and countries. In other words, don’t just look at the ad library as a whole. Drill down.
- What kinds of ads are being run on Instagram in your niche and your country?
- What kind of creative materials are brands promoting in Messenger right now?
- What are brands using for network display ads?
By analysing the library this way, you can skip a lot of iterating and split-testing. This teaches you a lot more than just looking at creative.
3. Track ads manually
FB tells you when an ad first ran, which isn’t enough info in and of itself. But if you put a little effort in, you can (and should) track performers manually using a spreadsheet. This lets you know a lot more than Facebook shows you.
Yes, this requires some manual effort. But if you really want to see how your competitors are doing you need to be willing to put in some elbow grease.
4. Look at offers and CTAs
Don’t just look at the creative materials being used. Take a close look at what your competitors are offering.
- Are they using lead magnets to gather user emails?
- Are they trying to drive sales with discounts?
- Are they running top-of-funnel content to increase brand awareness?
Studying the offers and the logic behind them gives you a lot more than surface-level analysis of copy, visuals, etc.
Explore entire funnels, not just ads
If you have the money and bandwidth, explore your competitors’ whole funnels; not just the ads they show on Facebook. Understanding their offers inside and out helps do better with your own marketing.
Study where the ads take you. What do the landing pages, product pages, and blog posts look like? Can you map out a competitor’s entire funnel?
If necessary, buy their product, sign up to their email list, etc. See what’s happening behind the scenes. Afterwards, ask yourself:
- What can you do to differentiate yourself?
- How can you make your landing pages or product pages more compelling?
- What positive things can you learn from other brands?
- Do they use any CTAs that are particularly good?
Is the FB ad library free?
Yes, the Facebook ad library is entirely free. It was originally created to promote transparency in political advertising but has since become an excellent resource for marketers.
What’s Better than Facebook Ad Library?
We’re Australia’s #1-rated marketing agency. Facebook Ads are one of our core services. We’ve literally helped hundreds of businesses get sales and customers by running ads on Instagram, Facebook, and other Meta channels.
Facebook Ad Library is helpful – but we can help you do even better. We know what works in your industry and would be happy to jump on a free consultation to share our knowledge.
No strings attached. And all you have to do to get the free consult is click below and give us your name and number. Talk soon!