How to Spy on Your Competitor’s Facebook Ads

Would you like to know what Facebook ads your competitors are running? Facebook now gives you the ability to spy on your competitor’s.3 min

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In this article, I’ll show you how to see the ads, what you can and can’t see, and what the implications are for Facebook Marketers.

Spying on Facebook Ads

In response to the election scandal and for more transparency, Facebook has added a “Info and Ads” tab to every Facebook Page.  From there, you can see what ads they are currently running in which countries, when the Page was created and if the Page has changed names.

For example, when I go to my friend Brian Carter’s Page (who always has the funniest ads by the way), I can click on the Info and Ads tab and scroll through the ads he’s running.

You can also see this on mobile when you navigate to the Page itself.

Spy on Facebook Ads Mobile


What You Can and Can’t See about Facebook Ads Your Competitor is Running

While this might feel invasive to marketers who are running ads, there are limitations that make this not as revealing as it appears.

What you can see:

  • How many Faebook ads they are currently running
  • What the ads look like
  • Where they are running ads

What you can’t see:

  • The exact targeting of the ads (more on this in a bit)
  • The budget of the ads
  • How long they have been running
  • The comments, reactions, and shares on the ads
  • If the ads are successful

So there is a lot about the ad campaigns you can’t know.  But you can see if they are running a lot of the same images that they are probably split testing their ads between many different targets.

A feature that has been available for awhile that many people don’t know is the ability to see “how” the ad might be targeted.  You can only see this if you see the ad in your Facebook News Feed (and that means you must be part of the targeting the ad is using currently).

To access that information, go to the upper right corner of the ad and use the drop-down menu to select Why am I seeing this?

You will then get a popup box that gives you some information about the targeting reasons but it can be a little vague.

About Facebook Ad Preferences

I did happen to be car shopping so I was on the Toyota site.

This feature is only helpful if you see the ad in your News Feed and it may only tell you part of the targeting the ad is using.

What this Means for Facebook Marketers

While this change isn’t great news for marketers running ads as it gives more information about the ads you are running to anyone, I don’t think this is a huge problem for a few reasons:

  1. Your competitors can only see the types of ads you are running and what countries you are running them in.
  2. Your competitors can’t see any targeting information unless they are part of the targeting and they see your ad in the News Feed.

But one big negative is that your ads can be “reported” easily from the Info and Ads tab.  This could lead to abuse but hopefully Facebook has some review measures in place to watch for people reporting ads for no reason.

Facebook does require that you give a reason why you report an ad and they typically won’t stop an ad unless it is violating Facebook policies.  And by the way – I would never report Brian because he is awesome and runs ads the right way.

I do think that this can be a good way to see if someone is “gaming the system” by running ads in foreign countries so that they cheaply drive up the engagement on their ad before running it in their own country (a practice I don’t agree with but is done).

And hopefully it will help prevent any type of election tampering of any kind in the future.

What do you think about this change?  Will you use this feature?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you want more Facebook Ads information, make sure you grab my free ebook and mini-course on Facebook Ads! 


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