How to Track Competitor Advertising Strategy.

And what to do with the information

Understanding competitor strengths and weaknesses is really helpful in building a dynamic marketing strategy, especially in a crowded or competitive market.

In fact, studying the competition is a core component in your business plan – and a lynchpin in deciding whether or not to enter, and where to position.

There are a couple of really helpful tools you can use to assess relative competitor strength across three key mediums – and leverage what they are doing to your advantage.

Tracking Competitor Facebook Ads

Viewing competitor ads on Facebook is easy.

Facebook has a page transparency policy, which includes a full ads library.

All you have to do to view your competitor’s ads is to visit the Ads Library and search for the relevant page.

Make sure you select the ‘Search All’ grey button and that you have your ad blocker off.

You can view ads by country if you are marketing globally – it’s interesting to see how global brands change out their ad copy and images sometimes by region.

Pay attention to the date of launch and the channels (placements) the ads are on – Facebook, Instagram, Messenger etc). That tells you a lot.

Where an ad has been running for a longish time (bear in mind that creative fatigues on Facebook), or where you have the same copy across a number of different images over a number of months – those are key creatives… the ones that have been working.

Pay attention to the messages and see if you have find the consumer’s problem in the creative execution.

Where an ad is not referring to a consumer problem and has been running for a long time, this is more than likely to be a retargeting ad.

If you only see retargeting ads, it’s more than likely that there is a different primary traffic driver such as Google and that Facebook/Instagram are in play as retargeting only, which means you could definitely consider cold audience ads on Facebook.

Any discounting ads are likely to be ‘recall’ ads for lapsed customers who know the brand, but who have not repurchased for a period – or bottom of the funnel ads.

See if you can find a clear strategy for top of funnel, middle of funnel & bottom of funnel across the ads. It’s very obviously which is which for brands focused on Facebook marketing only.

Click on some of the ads to see the arrival experience.

Tracking Competitor Google Ads

Monitoring Google Ads is also possible but is not as straightforward.

Typing your keywords into the search bar will give you some insight as to who is competing in Google ads, but brands often run with scheduled campaigns (appearing at specific times of the day), so it’s easy to miss them.

I use a Pro SERP tool to track competitive strength by keyword and map overall spend by competitor. I can view their actual ads and see their moves from keyword to keyword.

Understanding how many players are competing in the field and where the focus lies for their ads helps to understand the medium.

The tool costs around $40 per month and is well worth it for this level of oversight.

Tracking Competitor Pinterest Ads

Pinterest Ads is a slightly different game.

Pinterest does not allow you to view specific competitor ads as far as I am aware, but you can view the ads that are getting the best positions in your category just by searching the keywords in your campaign – that tells you who you are competing with and gives you a view of what their ads look like. Clicking those ads or following the URLs will also give you great insight into the competitor’s landing experience, and you will discover if any funnel is in place.

Ideally, you are looking for highly searched rich categories (which means multiple layers of sub interests within the category) and with relatively low presence of ads.

When to use this information

You collate this information to map your own path – NOT to copy a competitor.

Look for gaps, look for key phrases that appear to be working, look for visual imagery that might help you create winning ads of your own.

Always remember that copying a known high profile brand’s content or imagery is a very big mistake – many people will mistake you for them, so just take the macro-level learnings, find the path of greatest opportunity for your brand and forge forth with the knowledge of where your own strengths lie and where the most cost effective advertising gaps are.

If you need help with this – drop me a line, I’d be happy to book a one to one strategy session with you!