Updated on September 24, 2019, to reflect current information.
As part of Facebook’s ongoing push for greater transparency, they’ve created the Facebook Ads Library. This library allows anyone on Facebook to view all the active ads promoted by a business account or page. This is obviously valuable for consumers who care to be informed about who’s trying to sell product or sway opinion, but it’s also a goldmine for social media marketers.
As a marketer, I’ve found the insight into other active ads extremely valuable. I’d encourage anyone who has a hand in creative, strategy, or analytics on Facebook to take a spin through this feature.
Here are a few of the ways you can and should be using this feature for marketing and competitive intelligence gathering.
Get Insight into how Premier Brands are Using Facebook
Most companies that advertise on Facebook don’t have anything like the time, team expertise, or budget to build a strategy for Facebook the way that you’d do it at a Nike or other premium brand.
Now, however, the Facebook Ads Library gives marketers without those resources a much deeper look at how companies with virtually unlimited resources allocate their spend across topics, products, and pages. If you’re relatively seasoned in social advertising, this should let you back into the strategy, and extrapolate a version that would work for your own brand.
Look at the copy, the content, and the media mix, and you should be able to jumpstart the creative process more like the big guys, even if you’re a one-person team.
Find Opportunities for Promotion Based on Competitor Behavior
The next piece of your competitive intelligence toolkit: Facebook Ads Library tab specifically allows marketers to see what products their competitors are pushing the hardest, and when.
For instance, if you look at any major retailer in August, it’s relatively easy to see their focus areas for the Back-to-School season, the creative they’re using to do it, and when they’re pushing the hardest.
An example use case for this data: Creative teams can use this visibility to ensure their Facebook ads and photography stand out from competitors advertising similar products. But certainly, don’t stop there.
Plan for Ad Units Not Currently Available to All Businesses
Before Facebook rolls out any new ad format for broad use by all advertisers, they’ll test the placement type by offering it to a few select brands or agencies. This typically means that the biggest spenders get preferred access, and a running head start on any new ad format. For instance, we had the opportunity to test Instagram story carousels for some of our larger clients well before they were rolled out to the platform as a whole.
While you’ll continue to see a bit of this Catch 22 with the biggest brands getting a head start on new ad types, the Facebook Ads Library allows scrappier brands to keep an eye on what’s coming down the pipe. This is certainly not perfect parity, but it should let you get creative assets together proactively to capitalize on new features rather than starting on the back foot.
Find Content and Topics that Your Competitors are Promoting Heavily
Facebook organic reach is increasingly a thing of the past, and with that we lose some visibility into what the platform was telling us about content and topics that resonated especially well on the platform.
However, by looking at the topics, titles, and themes that competitors are promoting and prioritizing, scrappy businesses can pull out a number of different insights. Whether you’re looking for topics that are under-served by the big guys as far as sponsored content, or those that have been done to death, the Facebook Ads Library tab offers a great look at the competitive content landscape.
However you choose to use it, the Facebook Ads Library is a fantastic competitive intelligence tool that should be in every marketer’s toolkit.