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Have you ever wondered what advertisements your competitors are running on social media without your knowledge? In this quick article, you’ll learn how to embrace your inner detective and check in on competitor activity within Facebook Ads. Please give a warm welcome to the Facebook Ads Library! *applause*
Introduced in early 2019, the Facebook Ads Library is intended as a way of increasing transparency when it comes to advertising on its platforms, particularly for ads relating to issues, politics and elections. It enables you to see the ads being run by any account you search for.
It all stemmed from the infamous Cambridge Analytica issue that Facebook faced some years ago now. This is Facebook’s own description of the tool:
“The Ad Library provides advertising transparency by offering a comprehensive, searchable collection of all ads currently running from across Facebook Products, including Instagram. Anyone can explore the Library, with or without a Facebook or Instagram account.
You can access all active ads, even ones that might not have been shown to you because you weren't part of an advertiser's intended audience.”
That last sentence is the most interesting and is what makes this a great marketing insight tool. You can see ads even if you weren’t meant to see them!
It’s extremely simple to use. All you need to do is enter the name of your competitors Facebook page into the search bar.
Then voilà! All the ads that are currently running on that account will be shown.
You might get a blank page, which means that this account is not currently running ads. When there are ads running though, you’ll get insight into what sort of content is being promoted at the time. Unfortunately, you can’t see who they’re targeting or how the ads are performing. However, you can take inspiration from what they’re doing. Are they using video? Are they also advertising on Instagram? Could you make something better?
In addition, you can see when the Facebook page was created, how many Facebook accounts actively manage it and what countries they are based in.
Not all Facebook Ads have to be posted to a timeline, you know. If you’re just getting started with social media advertising yourself, you may have seen that button to boost a post on Facebook or promote a post on Instagram. You may have even received a cheeky prompt from Facebook in the form of a notification.
Some businesses and competitors choose to boost their existing posts, but as another user, you won’t be able to tell just by looking at a timeline. They may even use Facebook Ads Manager which allows them, or their marketing agency, to create ads that aren’t publicly posted to their timelines or profiles. And it's because of this that the Facebook Ads Library is so useful to advertisers.