Best Competitor Research and Analysis Tools (Spy On Their Ads)

Competitor research is an essential part of any advertising campaign if you want to be able to convey a message to your customers in a way that’s going to get them to buy.

Average CPM by campaign objective Facebook ads image

It’s also absolutely essential that you understand what they are exposed to from your competition on a daily basis.

So in this blog post I’m going to be showing you the best Competitor Research and Analysis Tools that you can use to find out exactly what your competitors are up to in their ad campaigns. And the best part is that this information is completely free!

Google Ads Transparency Centre for Competitor Research

The first tool I want to talk about is Google Ads Transparency Centre. This is going to allow you to view all of the campaigns that are running on the Google Display Network.

Elevate digital blogpost image showing a screenshot of the Google Ads Transparency Centre

Whether these are search campaigns, or display campaigns that are running via their media partners, that have news outlets and media publications, or even video ads running on platforms like YouTube.

Basically, any Google owned asset, you will be able to see within the Google ads transparency centre.

Elevate Digital blogpost image showing different types of Google advertisements

Now there’s a couple of things you have to bear in mind with the settings on here. Firstly you need to check the location settings. Depending on who you’re targeting they might only be running ads in certain areas, so I would always recommend setting this to “anywhere” so you can cover all of the ads and just get a really good understanding of what kind of ads your competitors might be using.

Elevate Digital blog post image showing the location setting to "anywhere"

One downside to the Google Ads Transparency Centre which the other tools do allow you to leverage, is that you can’t search just based on keywords.

You can only search based on competitor name, so this can be useful if you have a particular competitor whose ads you actually want to look at, but it’s not so useful if you don’t really know who your key competitors are at this stage and you’re really just looking for keywords that relate to your product or service.

But let’s take a look at a quick example of a company that we know is probably spending millions of dollars on their advertising, Nike.

Elevate Digital blog post image showing Nike adverts appearing on the Google Network

So you can see here we’ve got some shopping ads, some search campaigns and some display campaigns. We can literally see all of the different ads they’re running across different platforms.

So you can probably already get a sense of how powerful this can be. This can also be great for just getting inspiration, but most importantly it´s going to help you to understand what your competitors are saying, what they´re doing and what kind of things your potential customers are being exposed to on a daily basis.

So when it comes to you creating your marketing message you can craft something that’s going to stand out from that.

Meta Ad Library for competitor research and analysis

The next platform we´ll look at is the Meta Ad Library, which covers both Facebook and Instagram.

The great thing about this, is that you can also search by keyword. So let’s say for example we are in the insurance ins industry, I can type in “insurance,” hit search and this is going to look for any of the ads that relate to insurance.

So you’ll see a bunch of different insurance companies and we can start watching through these video ads, reading the messages and understanding what your customers are potentially going to be seeing.

Elevate Digital blog post image showing the Met Ad library search tool

This is so important and yet so many businesses don’t factor this into their own marketing campaigns. Hence, this is why most marketing campaigns fail, because what happens is, everyone makes ads that are all saying the same thing.

Consumers don’t trust anyone and then they don’t buy anything from your ads because they just don’t trust you, because you’re just exactly the same as everyone else out there.

So this is a really powerful step you can take to beginning to differentiate from what your competitors are doing and understanding the context of what your customers are seeing day to day.

LinkedIn Ads Library for Competitor Research in the B2B space

If you’re in the B2B space, then this is where LinkedIn ad library is a great tool as well.

So again you can search here either by advertiser or company name if you know a particular company that you want to go after, or you can search by keyword.

Elevate Digital blog post image showing the search options in the LinkedIn Ads Library

So let’s say we run a branding agency for example. You can see the campaigns that your competitors are running.

You can click onto these ads and see the landing pages that they’re sending people to.

We can see the impression split and we can even see some of the targeting information.

Elevate Digital blog post image showing a Linked In advert example landing page, the impression split and the targeting information

In the example below you can see that they’re sending people through to a “toolkit to help ensure a quality customer experience.”

So you can really begin to dissect and break down your competitors´ marketing strategies and their entire funnels and see what are the gaps they have.

And how you could potentially do something that creates a better experience, that’s maybe answering some unanswered questions, or maybe even poking fun at some of the competition out there.

Elevate Digital blog post image showing an example Linked In advertisement landing page

This is what some of the most successful brands do. They understand, they analyze the market and they see what all of their potential customers are exposed to on a daily basis.

And then they craft a message that often pokes fun at the competition. So they create a complete “pattern interrupt” to speak to their customers in an entirely new way.

This sets them apart and portrays them as the brand that “gets it” from the customers´s point of view, therefore creating brand affinity with potential customers.

Tik Tok Ads Library for Competitor Research and Analysis

The final platform we´ll look at is TikTok. So again we’ve got the same thing here, where we can search by advertiser name or we can search by keyword.

Elevate Digital blog post image showing the Tik Tok Ads Library search tool

So let’s say we’re selling a phone case for example. Tik Tok tends to work really well for these kind of low value spontaneous type of purchases.

Elevate Digital blog post image showing Tik Tok adverts

So now we can instantly start seeing the ads that our competitors are running and get some ideas of exactly what are our customers are being exposed to on a daily basis.

From here we can create something that’s not only in line with current trends and make something that feels like a native piece of content to the platform, but also again, most importantly we can understand how to differentiate and begin cut through the noise.

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Tom Peyton
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