There’s an old adage that tells us to keep our friends close and our enemies even closer. Now, while your online advertising competitors aren’t exactly arch-nemeses (unless you’ve taken the concept of rivalry far too seriously, in which case, perhaps a bit of self-reflection is in order), neglecting to monitor their actions could lead to potential threats to your enterprise.

In this piece, I’ll take you through nine clever techniques to track your rivals’ advertisements, allowing you to keep your approach flexible, pertinent, and impactful.

Let’s dive into each one.

1. Use the Facebook (Meta) Ads Library

You can gain access to a comprehensive view of all active advertisements across Meta platforms, courtesy of the Meta/Facebook Ads Library.

Facebook’s Ad Library allows users to see all active ads a page is running, even if they’re not in the target audience.

Consider elements such as: 

Here’s an example of a SoFi ad:

sofi ad on meta ads library

Do remember, however, you need to be aware of the competitor you’re investigating. Due to a lack of proper filtering, your keyword search could yield results that are a tad chaotic. 

Keep an eye on the following crucial details: 

2. Go to their website and get retargeted

A savvy digital marketing strategy of any profitable business includes the use of retargeting ads. Simply put, as a visitor to their website, you’re likely to encounter their ads on other websites and social media platforms moving forward.

Approximately 60% of marketers use search engine marketing and SEO to check on their competitors

Therefore, make an effort to frequent their website, roam around various pages, and interact. Be on the lookout for their social and display ads in your subsequent online ventures, spanning days or even weeks.

Here’s what you should be keeping an eye out for: 

graphic that shows how retargeting works

3. Use Facebook itself

Once you find yourself being retargeted with a competitor’s advertisement on Facebook, you have the opportunity to dive deeper into a marketing competitive analysis. You simply have to engage with the ad. 

Look for those three small circles located at the top right corner of the ad

Diving deeper into your competitor’s ad strategy doesn’t end at just looking at their ads. Observing their landing pages forms a crucial part of the exploration too. You see, marketers use ads in tandem with landing pages to build trust with their audience. But keep in mind, this trust can dissolve instantly if the landing page fails to fulfill the expectations set by the ad. Hence, when analyzing your competitor’s ad, don

why you saw ad on facebook

When I click into “Advertiser choices,” I learn that is targeting people who are part of a hashed (anonymized) list, are 25 and older, and are in the United States.

audience insights from facebook competitors ads

4. Use an SEO tool

SEO comprehensive tools such as Semrush and Ahrefs have features that provide insightful competitive analysis. With these tools, you’re able to explore not only the organic performance of your competitors’ websites, but also their paid strategies.

For instance, on Semrush, selecting “Domain Overview” under the “Competitive Analysis” option will reveal the topmost paid keywords from a competitor’s site, along with examples of their text ads.

semrush competitors ads tool

By selecting the “view details” option, you’re able to delve into the specifics of each keyword, such as its copy and its positioning trends. 

It’s also a viable option to explore the predicted traffic numbers and the associated expenses for the paid keywords:

screenshot from seo tool semrush showing paid ads traffic

Here’s what you ought to seek: 

5. Do a Google search

Even if you don’t have access to an SEO tool, never underestimate the power of a straightforward Google search. Just type in your competitor’s brand name or services, and voila! You’ll quickly see if they’re running ads and, if they are, get a sneak peak at their ad copy and landing page. Bear in mind, though, this method won’t give you the keyword data or position tracking details that we previously discussed. 

Here’s what you should be looking for: 

Take a look at the example below; I searched for “zendesk,” and found Zoho ranking higher than Zendesk for that particular keyword! Now, that’s a game-changer.

google search for zendesk

6. Use the Google Ads Transparency Center

For a closer inspection of your rivals’ Google Ads, consider utilizing Google’s Transparency Center. Think of it as their equivalent of an ad library.

Explore the myriad of text, ad, and video ads from your competitors or similar businesses to gather creative ideas for your campaigns. 

7. Experiment with TikTok Ads

Are your competitors running ads on TikTok? There’s one easy way to find out: the TikTok Ads Library.

tiktok ads library home screen example

The TikTok Ads Library is a treasure trove where you can uncover your rivals’ ads, provided they’re utilizing TikTok as an advertising platform. It’s also a hub for extensive advertising content you can learn from. 

8. Use competitive intelligence tools

The aforementioned tools not only excel in SEO but also pack a punch when it comes to gleaning competitive intel, primarily around PPC. 

Tools such as Similarweb stand apart as they not only deliver competitive intel but also deliver comprehensive insights about competitor ads. 

Whether you’re using Similarweb or Semrush, both come in really handy to unearth your competitors’ keywords, spot their search ad placements, measure their ad impressions, understand the traction gained from certain ads, and scope out their keyword strategy thoroughly.

finding competitors ads using intelligence tool

When it comes to deciding between these tools, they all provide largely the same data. The significant differentiation lies in what additional capabilities you’re seeking from the tool. If your focus is inclined towards SEO, looking into backlinks, and scrutinizing organic performance, Semrush could be the prime choice for you. Conversely, if your interests revolve around market research, enhancing data, and mapping the customer’s journey, then Similarweb might serve as a superior tool for your needs.

9. Use ad intelligence tools

Let’s not forget, there’s also an array of specialized tools for ad intelligence. A fine example would be Adbeat. Just enter a brand name, and even with their free option, you can discover: 

example of what you can find about competitors ads on adbeat

You can also browse a gallery of the brand’s ads and view the ad’s date, type, and size:

geico ad insights on adbeat