A few years back, Facebook gave us an incredible free tool that housed all currently-running ads from any Page that was advertising on the platform: The Facebook Ads Library.
The Facebook Ads Library is an invaluable asset to any brand on the social media networking site, whether you’re running ads as a part of your Facebook marketing strategy or not. It’s a great way to get inspiration for your own campaigns and to conduct competitor research.
So let’s dive in and take a look at how to use Facebook’s Ad Library as a social media marketer to improve your clients’ campaigns!
What is the Facebook Ads Library?
The Facebook Ads Library is a free, native resource that allows you to search for, find, and view all the ads currently running across the Meta suite of platforms.
This includes not only Facebook and its various placements, but Instagram, WhatsApp, and audience network ads, too. It’s always been called the “Facebook Ad Library,” though it’s technically now called the “Meta Ad Library” after the rebranding changes.
You’ll search for a Page name, set the location where the ads are being shown, and choose from ad types you want to see. (Pro tip: I always choose “all ads,” and we’ll talk about why later on).
You’ll then see a heading with the Page’s basic information like when the Page was created, how often the name was changed, its number of followers on Facebook and Instagram, and its primary country for those managing the Page.
You’ll also see all of the individual ads that are currently running, along with their start date, which platforms the brand is advertising on, and how many ads use the same creative and/or text.
This is invaluable information, and you can search for any Page to see what ads they’re currently running— even if you aren’t in the audience who would typically be able to see them in your feed.
How to Use Facebook’s Ad Library
Wondering how to find competitors in Facebook’s Ad Library? Great news, it’s as easy as a quick search.
First, go to the home page of the Ad Library. You’ll immediately see “Search ads” on the page.
Start by choosing the location of the ads that you want to see. Note that this isn’t the location of the brand that’s advertising, but instead the location of the audience the ads are being shown to.
Next, you can choose ad categories. This will allow you to view “all ads” by a specific advertiser, or to view ads that pertain to specific issues, elections, or politics. Unless you’re trying to view ads for these specific concerns, choose “all ads.”
Then, you’re going to enter in the name of the Page that you want to see ads from. Type it in, and then click on the correct brand in the search results below.
Once you do this, you’ll see all the qualifying ads the brand is running in your location. If you want to narrow it down, you can click on “Filters” towards the top right part of the page.
With filters, you can choose to narrow down ads by qualities like the language they’re targeting, the platforms the brand is advertising on, media types, active status, or a date range for when the ads were viewed.
And quick tip: Want to check out the ads that a brand is no longer running? Those might be offers that expired, products they no longer offered, or ads that weren’t working for them.
How to Use The Ad Library as Part of Your Facebook Marketing Strategy
When the Facebook Ad Library first rolled out, some marketers seemed ambivalent, but we’ve always known that it had an enormous amount of potential for research and marketing strategy purposes.
There are three core uses that we recommend our social media students take advantage of when it comes to the Ad Library. Let’s take a look at each.
You Can Use it For Competitor Research
This is easily, hands down, the most valuable use of the Facebook Ad Library.
You can see every single ad that your competition (or your clients’ competition!) is currently running.
This means you can:
- See what messaging and images they’re using to get users to click, which can give you insight into their core strategy and USP
- Analyse the offers they’re running— Are they giving first-time customers a 10% off, a freebie, or $15 off?— and make sure that yours is competitive
- Assess the pain points they’re stressing in the ads (which can give you insight into the specific audience segments they’re targeting), which can be exceptional information and may give you new ideas for how to do it better
- Determine which products or services they’re pushing most, which could indicate either their high-value items or (very likely) could show which items they believe are good “intro” items that customers are likely to purchase from an ad
- See which stages of the digital sales funnel they seem to be targeting; intro ads that cover the basics of a brand are meant for cold users, and lead magnets may be meant for warmer audiences
You can use all of this information to create stronger ads (leveraging the work they’ve done testing to skip a few steps yourself!) and to ensure that your offers are competitive and hitting unique pain points to appeal to your audience.
How This Works
Let’s look at a real example of how to use the Facebook Ad Library for competitor research and how to leverage that data into stronger ads for your own brand (or your client).
Say that I’m a photo-framing company that sells peel-and-stick framed pictures to my customers. Mixtiles would be a primary competitor.
Here are a few of their ads, as seen in their ad library. Take a quick look at each one:
First, we’ll notice the following:
- They leverage social proof, with 5-star ratings and “60,000+ reviews” in the ad headline; they also mention “the stickable framed photos everyone is talking about.”
- Offers include free shipping, 12 tiles for $89 (“$43 off!”) for an upcoming American holiday, and 50% orders off $200 or more.
- They use still images and videos, with many of the videos showing different use cases that the individual ad stresses (like how easy it is to apply them, or how easy it is to redecorate and move them around)
- One pain point focuses on easily displaying memories (“Don’t let your memories stay on your phone,” and “frame the moments that matter in 5 minutes”).
- Another core pain point focuses on how easy it is to redecorate at any point in the future with additional mixtiles, potentially appealing to both new and past customers with a re-engagement campaign.
- Most of the ads focus on women decorating with pictures of their families, indicating that this is likely their core target audience they’re focused on.
If I want to differentiate myself as the competitor, I might:
- Consider creating ads targeting college students living in dorms who can’t hang paintings with nails or tape or risk needing to lose their security deposit; that’s an entirely new audience not being targeted
- Talk more about balance of quality and flexibility of my pictures; great quality and you can redecorate at any point (as opposed to the competitor who only stressed flexibility and convenience)
- Offer fast free shipping, with a specific turnaround time for when we could ship if you order today
- Stress the convenience of the process and the product, and the different ready-made design templates; this seems to be a big selling point, which means it’s working for them, so I’ll leverage that for my ads, too
I’ve now got a starting point for how to create or enhance new ad campaigns and see how they work.
Finding Inspiration For What Works
We’ve touched on this in the section above, but when you’re reviewing competitors’ ads (or really any ads), you can easily look at an enormous volume of ads at once and see what jumps out at you.
What ads do you like? What styles of copy are appealing to you, and why? Do you love how some brands include more emojis, hit certain pain points, or use celebrity figures to promote their products?
How This Works
Here’s a quick example. These are ads from Grove Collaborative:
You might pick up on the following that you want to try for your own ads:
- Using simple color schemes to help your product stand out
- Mobile-shot video that looks like it was shot on an iPhone, which is mobile-friendly and a current best practice from Facebook
- Having free gifts with every first purchase, which can feel substantial, instead of just a discount
- Using “negative” messaging (“recycled plastic is just a myth”) to capture users interest through content and then sell them a product
Seeing What Potential Clients Are Already Doing
If you’re a brand who is running their own Facebook Ads, you can skip to the next section, but if you’re a social media practitioner who will be running ads for clients, keep reading.
I’ve always been an advocate of doing your research before a client call so that you understand what their basic needs are and you can spot gaps in their current strategy.
This gives you the opportunity to offer a Facebook marketing strategy for their ads that they aren’t currently executing, which increases your initial value and makes you more likely to get that contract signed.
How This Works
If, for example, Joy Organics got in touch to ask about ad copywriting, I’d take a look at their Facebook Ad Library, and I’d see the single ad that they’re currently running:
They’re taking an information-based approach (“learn why mom is switching to CBD”), but that not all the dots are connecting. “If anyone deserves a break, it’s mom” then goes into how moms are switching to CBD. As a potential customer, I wouldn’t know what the product was.
So I’d develop a very quick strategy before even talking to them to explain that we could create ads that really highlighted the specific benefits of specific products to increase CTR and conversion rates. I’d also stress the importance of using carousel ads to appeal to a large number of customers (some might be more open to a CBD bath bomb than something you put in food or drink). I’d also talk about the importance of multiple campaigns to test and a full funnel strategy.
This would make me more likely to successfully get the contact, because I’ve identified what they need and have shown I can deliver it.
And yes— it can be frustrating when you put time and energy into preparing for a potential sales call that ends up not converting, but it can help you net more wins overall. Don’t give away your entire strategy but little hints of what you’d like to do, and that can be the winning combo.
The Facebook Ad Library is clearly an exceptional tool for social media marketers who want to take their ads (or their clients) to the next level. It all but ensures that you can conduct thorough competitor research to create ads that will stand out in users’ newsfeeds, whether it’s because you’re stepping up on the competition or doing something different on purpose.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to conduct this research fairly regularly, because your competitors are likely to be testing new ad strategies and copy on a regular basis, too. It’s not a one-and-done sort of deal, and keeping up with the competition can be a good way to stay competitive long term.
Want to learn more about how to knock Facebook Ads out of the park? Check out our Facebook Marketing course today.