For those who haven’t heard, Facebook released an update in late June that allows you to view any ads that a business page is currently running in your country. To do so, simply visit any company’s Facebook page and click “Info and Ads” on the left sidebar, as shown:
Along with the active ads they’re running, you can also see information about when the page was created and any name changes the page has undergone (right sidebar).
Why Did Facebook Add This Feature?
Facebook released this update in an effort to “bring additional transparency to Pages and the ads they’re running,” according to their June 28 press release. “We’re taking these steps as part of our efforts to prevent election interference and protect against bad actors.”
In a nutshell, Facebook implemented this feature to make advertisers more responsible for the ads that they’re running, and to prevent foul play on the part of pages advertising socially or politically-driven content. In order to run ads of this nature, page owners will now have to undergo a detailed authorization process that ensures they’re held accountable for their content and are being transparent with the public.
What Does This Mean for Business Owners?
Having the ability to view competitors’ active ads opens up significant opportunities for companies to make more informed decisions about their advertising strategy. And consider this no small gift — in 2017, more than 20% of all U.S. digital ad dollars were spent on Facebook, with that number expected to increase this year — solidifying the notion that many businesses are making Facebook ads work to their benefit.
For marketers and business owners already utilizing Facebook ads, this feature can be leveraged in several ways. For those not yet using Facebook ads, this feature provides an excellent starting point for determining a strategy. Here are a few ways we’re using this feature to help our clients:
1. Determining the value of Facebook advertising in your industry
Look at your competitors’ pages and click on the “Info and Ads” section. Take note of how many are running Facebook ads and how many aren’t. Then, look at the quantity of ads per competitor. If you see that 80% of your competitors are running over five Facebook ads each, chances are that there’s revenue to be made from Facebook ads in your industry. On the contrary, if none of your competitors are running Facebook ads, this can either mean they haven’t had success with it or simply haven’t tried it. As one of many marketers who sees Facebook’s platform as the most powerful advertising tool today, I suggest jumping on Facebook ads before your competitors do, especially in the B2C space. Being the first in your market to make positive impressions gives you a strong leg up on the competition.
2. Identifying how competitors are positioning their unique selling points
Whether you’re running Facebook ads or not, having the ability to browse competitors’ ads is a luxury for copywriters, creatives, and brand strategists everywhere. Looking at how competitors present themselves and position their unique selling points is a technique used across most advertising mediums, but rarely has that information been this readily available. This new feature presents an opportunity for us to not only analyze the content of competitors’ ads (headlines, imagery, landing pages), but also to see the overall spread of their ads (which types of ads run more often, and for longer). If they’ve been running a campaign for several months, we like to assume that they’re having some level of success. Because that’s what we do.
3. Identifying opportunities to gain market share
Since most of us aren’t competing with Coca-Cola, Nike, or Apple, this feature offers the ability to make impressions that your competitors have not yet made. Much of this process is industry-specific, but generally we can derive things such as “our competitors aren’t promoting customer testimonials, and we have strong testimonials to promote,” or “our competitors are too focused on selling — let’s promote useful information to their purchasing decision so that we can build trust with them.”
Keep in mind that this feature does not allow you to see targeting or budget data, nor engagement data such as likes, comments, and shares. It also allows competitors to view your active ads. We see this as a fair price to pay, considering the benefits listed above (and that we’re committed to staying on top of our clients’ competitors).
Nonetheless, when it comes to Facebook ads, determining what really works can only be done through formulating your best initial strategy and testing to find what works. It can be a meticulous process, but when leveraged correctly, Facebook ads can be of value to almost any business, small or large.
We love helping brands leverage Facebook ads for success. Whether you haven’t started with Facebook ads, are currently struggling with them, or just need some advice, give us a call!
Digital Marketing Coordinator