6 Facebook Ads Spy Techniques that Seasoned Social Media Marketers Use

With the right elements in place, using Facebook ads can bring your business truckloads of audience engagement, signups, leads, and sales (among other things).

The key phrase here, however, is “right elements in place.”

Without the elements that make up a high converting Facebook ad, the chances are you will only be leaking money through your paid campaigns without getting anything substantial in return.

What makes the endeavor even trickier is the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all set of guidelines to creating a high-converting ad since these elements would vary depending on the dynamics of the business (e.g., target audience, problems of their customers, their budget, and their services, etc.).

In many cases, the business owners would have to run countless split tests just to figure out which ads are bringing in results.

Sadly, these split tests can be expensive — very expensive!

The good news is, there’s another route that you can take to figure out how to create a compelling ad.

That’s where social ad spying comes in.

Instead of having to make costly trial and error mistakes in your attempt to figure out what works and what doesn’t, you can spy Facebook ads from your competitors and learn from their mistakes instead. More than that, you can also learn from the best practices that your competitors are employing so you can fine-tune your ads.

How do you spy on your competitors in Facebook, you might want to ask?

Check out these four tips.

1. Let Facebook tell you how your competitors are running their ads.

Contrary to what others would have you think, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to spy on your competitors. In fact, just by using Facebook, you can get boatloads of powerful insights on how your competitors are running their marketing campaigns.

The best part is, spying on your competitors through Facebook wouldn’t even require that much effort from you. With the right tools, you’ll know what your competitors are up to in a matter of seconds.
How to use your competitor’s Facebook ads to spy on them.
For most Facebook users, they only click the drop-down button on the upper right part of the posts on their news feeds to either hide a post or unfollow their connection.

This is the button I’m referring to.

Facebook audience in faebook

If you are a seasoned Facebook marketer, however, you would know that there is more to the harmless-looking drop-down button than just unfollowing people or hiding posts.

Why am I seeing this Facebook ad

Once you click the “Why am I seeing this?” option, you can see something like this.

Your competitors demographic targeting

Others are even more descriptive and specific.

Facebook Ad Spy Secret
With these details, you’ll have an idea of the kind of demographics your competitors are targeting which you can utilize as a starting point when creating your own target demographics as well.

2. Spy on the successful ads on your niche using GetCompass.co

While the first tip that we’ve discussed can certainly work wonders for you in terms of helping you spy on your competitors, the tip has a limitation to it; and that’s the fact that you can only spy on the ads on your newsfeed.

When you think about how there are hundreds of other carefully crafted ads out there that you ought to be studying — but you aren’t because you don’t even know where to find them — then you’ll know that you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities.

If you feel that you’re struggling with this very thing right now, then we can help you with that just that — spying on truckloads of successful niche related ads.

Here’s what happens when you enter your keywords in our search box.

(Note – I added “Keyword Research” in the search box for the sake of this walkthrough.)

Facebook ad spy tool Compass

Social Ad Spy Tool

As you can see, the audience engagement that these ads managed to obtain is quite decent.

Since we know that the ads were successful (at least based on their audience engagement), we can check out how the ads were created so we can create something better.

There are a couple of things that you need to pay particular attention to when studying the anatomy of the ads:

  1. The ad’s copy. Did you see a common problem that your competitor keeps highlighting?
  2. The ad’s call-to-action. Do ads with a “Sign-up” call-to-action get lesser engagement when compared to ads with the “Learn More” CTA?
  3. The ad’s image. Is there anything special with the image your competitors are using? Are they adding a “Red” border to the image? Are they purposefully making their image look ugly, so it’ll catch their audiences’ attention?

After carefully considering the three elements that I shared above, you should already be equipped with strategies or ideas that you can apply to your ad to make them even more compelling.

Another thing I’d like to emphasize is how you can add filters to the results. If you’re looking for links, photos, or video ads only (or maybe all of them at once), then choose from the “Ad Type” drop-down.

Sort Compass Ads

You can also filter based on the type of engagement, or if you want the most recent ads to show.

Engagement Metrics

If you’d like to see your competitors’ ads in action, then click the “Facebook Sponsored Post” clickable link at the bottom of the ad.

Facebook Search Display

At this point, we’ve only just been focusing on the actual ads that your competitors created.

Instead of only looking at their ads, you can also use our program to find your competitors’ company profile pages.

Search for ads based on keyword

Once you’re in the search results that shows your competitors profile pages, you can then add filters to get better results.

(Note – Most of our users go for “Likes.”)

Most recent ads

The good thing about finding your competitors’ profile pages is that you can do more than just analyze their paid ads. You can check out the kind of posts they’re publishing, know if they have special promos, events, or contests (among other things).

3. Infiltrate your competitors’ ranks.

Back in the day — and I’m talking about the pre-internet era — brands find it hard to spy on their competitors because they go about their act of spying as an “outsider.”

Now that the internet has come, however, it’s a lot easier to infiltrate the ranks of our competitors. Of course, once your competitors think you’re one of theirs, they’ll use all of the ninja marketing tricks they know to influence you to buy their products.

At that point, you’ll see first hand how their marketing mechanism works.

Moreover, so the question becomes, how exactly do you spy on your competitors by infiltrating their ranks through Facebook?

Here’s my three-part answer.

1. Create a new profile/account.

Forget spying if you’re trying to obtain crucial insights about your competitors’ marketing strategies if you come to them with your profile. They’ll never let you in on their secret.

You need to create a new profile, so they won’t know it’s you spying on their tactics.

2. Follow and Like their pages.

Find your competitor’s Facebook profiles/accounts (you can use our tool’s Page Profiles feature to do this) then Like and Follow their pages.


You can even take things further by changing the settings, so Facebook will show you the posts of your competitors on the top of your newsfeed and get notified by Facebook every time new posts are made.

Step 1: Click the “Follow” button.

Follow Page on Facebook
Step 2: Go to the “In Your News Feed” section then click the edit button.

Step 3: Click the “See First” radio button then the “Done” button.

Step 4: Click “Notifications” then tick “All Posts,” “Events,” and “All Live Posts.”

If you follow the steps that I’ve detailed above, then Facebook will surely send you notifications about your competitor’s activities, making it easier for you to spy on them.

3. Tag their ad as “This ad is useful.”

tag the ad "This ad is useful"

Every time you tell Facebook that you found certain ads to be useful, Facebook will send you more ads of the same nature in the future.

“Tell us when you see an ad you like. Click the or near the top-right corner of any ad on Facebook, and then select This ad is useful. We’ll do our best to show you more ads like that one in the future.” — (Source Facebook )

If you follow the 3-step formula that I shared, you should be able to obtain crucial details about your competitors’ marketing strategies.

4. Spying on who your competitors’ followers are.

If you’d like to get stunning results out of your Facebook marketing ads, there are two crucial elements that you need to do right: First, your actual ad needs to be optimized for conversion (the copy, graphics, call-to-action, and everything else in between), second, you need to target the right audience.

When you have both of these elements in place, your chances of getting great returns out of your Facebook paid ads campaign drastically increase.

The first three points we’ve covered should give you all the tools/ideas you need to create a compelling ad by spying on your competitor’s Facebook ads. The only thing we need at this point is to figure out what demographics you should target.

Of course, you can also spy on your competitors’ ads to figure this out.

This is where Fanpage Karma comes in.

If you aren’t familiar with how the online tool works, it analyzes your competitors’ followers or audience on Facebook, Twitter Google +, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest.

You can learn from which countries their audience is from.

Fanpage Karma Countries

Who the influencers are that keeps on sharing their posts.

Fanpage Karma Followers

Also, you can see the pages that your competitors’ fans are most likely following or interested in.

These are just a few of the many insights you can get out of your competitor’s audience using Fanpage Karma.

5. Watch your competitors’ PPC ads

For most marketers, the hard part of designing new Facebook ad campaigns is determining the right ad image. Should your ideal Facebook ads design involve a stock image? Alternatively, maybe it is desirable to use a custom design? Sometimes, all it takes to get new concepts for your Facebook ads is to examine your competitors’ PPC ads (the ads that are served in Google’s Display Network).

There are so many PPC spying tools out there that it is impossible to name them all. If you are looking for a comprehensive paid option (which is one of my favorites) that will show you all the ads used by other companies, try Adbeat. Just enter a name of your competitor and start browsing their PPC ads.

Adbeat Home page

If you are fortunate enough to be working with a team of designers, send them some of the best examples you have discovered and ask if they can produce something comparable for your Facebook campaigns. Make sure that your ad visuals align with your branded design guidelines.

If you have reviewed all your competitor ads and want some extra inspiration, explore the PPC ads of your favorite brands. Businesses like Nike, Coca-Cola, BMW, etc. are working with the world’s best agencies, so they can provide a lot of great ideas from easily browsing their ads.

Adbeat Display Ads Search

6. Go beyond paid traffic

With these tips, you are going to learn valuable new insights about how your competition runs their Facebook ads. However, Facebook is just one part of any companies marketing strategy. Identify the rest of your competitor’s strategy to get a greater knowledge of what makes you competitors tick, to determine whom they believe are key audiences, how they outline their value proposition, and where they think it is essential to reach out to new lead opportunities outside of Facebook.
There are a couple of fundamental places you should be considering when building on your Facebook ad insights. First, analyze their content strategy. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with attempting to discover what kind of content your competition is creating, and what their audience finds engaging.

Use Buzzsumo to search based on your competitor’s websites, a keyword, and see how engaged people are with particular blogs or different content types. Seeing what intrigues people will assist you to refine ideas for great calls-to-action and engaging language on your ads. If you are operating a SEO marketing business, you can examine what content on a site like searchengineland.com are producing the most user interest across different platforms.

Buzzsumo homepage

You can also analyze ads outside of Facebook. Look at what they are doing on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn to see what kind of strategies they are using across several social media channels. For example, on Twitter, using Twitter lists you can create a personal feed of only your competitor’s tweets. Make sure your list is set to private so only you can see who’s on the list of companies you are watching.

Let’s say you are trying to get into sports apparel and need to find out what the big players in the are doing on Twitter; you can put it all in one place.

Twitter List Growth Hackers

Once you have a list, you can transform your Twitter feed into a handy place to see how your competition is trying to inspire people to hit their fitness targets and while looking great doing it.

Twitter list members

Following your competition’s larger social media campaigns can influence ideas that will add value to your Facebook ads.

What’s next?

Learning about several social spy ad techniques are great, however, if you don’t take the time to apply the concepts that you’ve learned, you won’t get much out of your learnings.

That being said, I urge you to use the techniques that we’ve discussed above. Once you’ve tried several of these tips, you can come back and share the kind of results you’ve gotten out of following the tips in the comments section below.

I look forward to reading your comments. Cheers!

About the author

Rand Owens

Chief Growth Hacker at https://www.randowens.com/


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