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How to Use Facebook's New Ad Library

by Guest Author 29 October 2019 11:41

Interested in advertising on Facebook, but aware that your competitors, perhaps larger or better known, also advertise, there—and spend some big bucks?

One counterattack to consider is the trade-off between spending and effort. By effort, I mean an in-depth, persistent attempt to understand messages, strategies, and volume of your key competitors' advertising campaigns—as well as how much they spend, with what results. Based on solid knowledge of what your competitors are claiming, the gaps in their pitch, and even what complaints they are receiving, you can be far more precise in targeting your own ads.

Facebook Provides an Amazing New Tool

But it does sound like effort, doesn't it? It is, but as recently as May 2018 Facebook handed you a seriously important tool called the Facebook Ad Library. Almost certainly acting under pressure after the 2016 Presidential election, which brought accusations that social media hosted "fake news" and extremist rhetoric, Facebook opted for "advertising transparency." It created a "comprehensive, searchable collection" of all ads on Facebook. Anyone can access this library and all active ads—even those targeted at a restricted audience.

Germane to Facebook's motive for the library, the company emphasizes that all ads related to "politics or issues of national importance" will be available when active—and will be kept for seven years.

The Library is a treasure trove for anyone investigating and analyzing ad contents, trends, and audiences—in fact, an entire content and statistical profile—of any Facebook advertiser. Just enter the company's name, brand name, or other identifier and the information is yours.

Just A Few High-Impact Moves

Let's look at just a few specifics:

Build an ad "swipe file" of your competitors' Facebook ads. Several choices of software to create such files can be found by Googling "Swipe file." Someone at your firm could be delegated to do the collecting.

  • Once you have a healthy sample, you can run custom searches and formulate such variables as brand-messaging changes, best-selling products, and pricing updates for each competitor. Is a competitor trying to recover from a hit to its reputation? Conducting a fire sale of a product about to be discontinued?
  • If you write an ad targeting an apparent weak spot in a competitor's ad claims, you can run it on Facebook targeted specifically at those who "like" and "follow" your competitor's Facebook page. That's right. When Facebook asks you to specify your ad's target population, you can specify the followers of… [name of your competitor's page].
  • Partly in response to the Ads Library, there are a host of online tools for analyzing the nature, source, and volume of ad traffic. SimilarWeb lets you see how much traffic your competitor's ads are getting from which social media. An excellent article in Social Media Examiner tells us: "Using Ahrefs, you can view all of the pay-per-click (PPC) keywords your competitor is targeting." And also view other traffic statistics like the cost per click. Company spending on keywords and other paid advertising tools, of course, can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • It could be worth tracking statistics on your competitors' Facebook blogs to separate out the dozen or so with the most hits. This is the kind of content that is succeeding for your competitor-- a consideration in crafting your own ads.

Your initial investment in "effort"--if you persist long enough to spot trends, cycles, strengths, and weaknesses—can guide your decisions about financial investment. In the trackless reaches of cyberspace, strategy is all about targeting to achieve carefully defined goals. The Facebook Ad Library gives you a free and remarkably powerful new tool.

Valley Yellow Pages is your advertising and information resource in print and online.

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