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How To Use Meta Ads Library To Spy And Beat Your Competitors

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by
Aleksandra -
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Chief of Content Marketing
Aleksandra teaches marketing and management at various levels in High School. She writes about marketing, the economics and logistics of the dropshipping business and ecommerce in general.
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Chief of Content Marketing
13 minutes

Are you curious about how to outsmart your competitors using their own strategies? Enter the Meta Ads Library—a treasure trove of insights and inspiration.

Ever wondered what ads your competitors are running? Or how they craft their marketing messages?

In this article, I’ll unveil how you can leverage the Meta Ads Library to spy on and beat your competition. Get ready to unlock powerful tactics that could elevate your marketing game!

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What Is Facebook Ads Library?

If you’re diving into the world of digital marketing, you might have heard about the Meta Ads Library. But what exactly is it, and why should you care? Let’s break it down.

The Meta Ads Library, formerly known as the Facebook Ads Library, is a powerful tool provided by Meta that offers transparency into the advertisements running across its platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.

Essentially, it’s a searchable database where you can see all the ads that are currently active, regardless of whether they’re targeting you.

So, why should you use it? First, for competitor analysis. Want to know what your competitors are up to? The Ads Library lets you see their current ads, giving you insights into their strategies, creative approaches, and messaging.

It’s like having a sneak peek into their marketing playbook. Second, it’s great for inspiration and ideas. Also, you can see who’s behind the ads, the money spent, and how they’re being targeted. Additionally, it aids in performance benchmarking.

As you can see, there’s a lot to learn and take advantage of here. It’s more than just a library, right?

Therefore, let’s learn how to use the Meta Ads library!

👉Read about about Facebook Ads for dropshipping.

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How To Use Facebook Ads Library? (My Step-By-Step Guide)

👉 Discover the Top 22 Ways To Get Paid To Watch Videos In 2024 + Tips & Tricks.

Step 1 – Access the Meta Ad Library

First, visit the Meta Ad Library by going to https://www.facebook.com/ads/library/.

Here, you’ll be presented with a search bar and options to select your location and ad category.

Step 2 – Search For Ads

In the Meta ad Library Search section, you should choose a location, select an ad category (if it isn’t applicable, choose All Ads), and type in a keyword. This will help you find the ads relevant to your search.

Once you’ve set your location, the next step involves choosing an ad category.

Also, options include “All Ads,” “Issues, Elections, or Politics,” Properties, and more sensitive categories.

In my opinion, for most searches, you should select All Ads to get a complete overview.

When you’re ready to use the Facebook Ads Library, you can either type in the name of the brand or company you’re interested in or enter specific keywords related to the product or service you’re searching for.

This feature of the Meta Ads Library is especially useful for marketers who need to understand the competitive landscape.

For example, if you’re researching ads for a new fitness product, you can search for related keywords to see what types of ads competitors are running and what strategies they are using.

Furthermore, to narrow down your results, you can apply various filters. You can select the language you prefer, either all languages or specific ones.

For instance, for advertisers, choose all or select specific ones. Hence, you can use the search bar or go directly to the advertiser’s Facebook page.

Thus, if you want to see ads from Gap, simply type “Gap” into the search bar and select the correct Facebook page. It’s important to ensure you select the main Facebook page for the most relevant results.

From there, navigate to the About section, then Page Transparency, click on See All and finally Go to Ad Library.

You can also choose which platforms you want to see ads from, including Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network, and Messenger.

For media type, you can pick from images, memes, videos, or no image or video.

You can filter by active status, selecting either active, inactive, or both. Lastly, set the impressions by date to define a start and end date for your search.

Similarly, entering keywords can help you find specific types of ads or ad content, offering a more targeted approach to your research.

Step 4 – See Ad Details

Once you find the ad categories you are looking for or advertisers’ ads, you can check in more detail.

So, to get more information, click on See Ad Details. This section will provide you with specific details such as who paid for the ad (disclaimer), the estimated audience size, and the delivery metrics, including the amount spent and number of impressions.

You will also see demographic details like age ranges, genders, and locations of the viewers.

Additionally, you can find more information about the advertiser, including their spending and disclaimers for other ads.

Step 5 – Check on Special Ad Categories

If you want to find ads from a particular advertiser, use the Special Ad Categories from the Meta Ads Library.

Moreover, when looking for ads in special categories like Politics, Elections, or Social Issues, make sure to use the Special Ad Category filter.

This will provide you with additional details that aren’t available for other types of ads. Remember, these ads will remain visible in the library for seven years.

For example, political ads offer extra filters such as Delivery by Region, Disclaimer, and Estimated Audience Size. Hence, these filters help you get more detailed insights into the ad’s performance and reach.

Also, the search results will show details including the Library ID, So you can check whether the ad is active or inactive, the date it started running, the platforms where it appeared, and the categories it falls under.

Moreover, you will get insights about the estimated audience size, the amount spent, and the number of impressions.

Step 6 – Advanced Searches and Tips

To refine your search further, you can use quotes to search for exact phrases in ad copies. Combining multiple phrases can also narrow down your search results, making it easier to find specific ads.

Moreover, you can save your searches, which allows you to quickly access them later. This feature is particularly useful for ongoing competitive analysis or monitoring specific trends.

For advanced users, the Ads Library offers an API for customized searches and data extraction. This feature allows for more in-depth analysis and integration with other data tools.

Additionally, the Branded Content Search feature helps you find posts and videos involving paid partnerships, which is especially useful for those involved in influencer marketing.

5 Strategic Ways To Use Meta Ads Library

1. Use Facebook Competitor Ads for Inspiration

One of the most powerful uses of the Meta Ads Library is to monitor your competitors.

Hence, you can simply go to Ad Library, set your location, the ad category, and type the business name.

Keep in mind that their ads will likely be linked to their Facebook page and will share the same name.

From there, you can view all the ads they have run over the past seven years. Each ad is displayed as a card, which you can click on for more details.

You can also use filters to find out even more information about your competitors’ ads.

Using these filters, you can view a competitor’s entire creative strategy, including text, images, and videos. You can also see what ads they ran in previous years, especially during specific holidays or promotional periods.

For example, I am dropshipping sunglasses. So, by searching for “Warby Parker,” I can view their ads for eyewear and other products.

This not only gives me insight into their marketing strategies but also helps me identify trends and tactics that I can incorporate into my own campaigns.

My advice: Make sure to check multiple pages if a competitor has several to ensure you’re viewing the main page with the most ads.

Hence, that’s how I analyze Warby Parker’s ideas about their videos that are going viral, catchy headings, targeting audience, etc.

2. Discover Fresh Ideas

Finding inspiration for your Facebook advertising strategy is easy with the Facebook Ad Library. You can search by keyword or topic to discover new ideas.

Start by typing a relevant keyword into the search bar instead of a specific brand name. This will show you how similar businesses are advertising their specials, promotions, new products, and more.

For instance, typing in “bakery” will let you browse through numerous real ads from various bakeries. This can help you see how other local businesses are using Facebook to promote their products, announce new locations, and even hire staff.

If you need fresh ideas or are new to Facebook Ads, this method is a great way to see what other businesses are creating daily. It helps you brainstorm new ideas for your own social ads.

3. Analyze Your Own Ads

When was the last time you evaluated your own Facebook and Instagram ads? The Facebook Ad Library can also be used to review your ad history.

Looking at your own results can highlight opportunities to refresh and optimize your ads. This way, you can see if you need to update your creative, vary your ad copy, test new calls to action, or feature a new product or service.

4. Agency Prospecting

Agencies can benefit from the Meta Ads Library when pitching to potential clients. Before reaching out to a prospect, you can use it to see if they are currently running any Facebook Ads.

So, knowing whether they are running ads helps you tailor your pitch. If they are running ads, you can view their active campaigns to understand their main goals, calls to action, and areas for improvement.

5. Check Ad Activity and Team Size

You can also see when your prospect last ran Facebook Ads. Hence, understanding the timing of their ad campaigns can give you insights into their challenges or goals.

For example, if they run many ads around holidays, you know those are important times for their business.

Additionally, the Meta Ad Library shows who is responsible for managing the page. Click the “About” button to see details about the business, including how many people manage the page.

For example, a local gym might have one person managing their page, while a large company like Gymshark has over 100 people dedicated to their Facebook campaigns worldwide.

This information can help you understand how to approach your pitch and anticipate the level of stakeholder engagement needed.

💡 Tip: Learn How To Delete Ads On Facebook – Beginners Guide.

Things To Know About Meta Ads Delivered to the European Union

Due to legal and regulatory requirements, all ads displayed in the European Union need an extra layer of transparency. Thus, I will give you an example by reviewing the DHL Facebook ads for Germany.

So, when you search for ads in these countries, you’ll see additional details.

Search Results Include:

  • Library ID
  • Active or Inactive Status
  • Start Date
  • Platforms
  • Multiple Versions Indicator
  • Number of Ads Using the Same Creative and Text
  • Meta Ad Library

Plus, if you want to get more information, you can click “See Summary Details” to view a summary page with all related ads. Also, click “See Ad Details” on any ad for further breakdowns.

Moreover, the European Union Transparency includes data about:

  • Location, Age, and Gender Targeting: Specific details on who the ads are targeting.
  • Total Reach: Number of people reached in the EU, broken down by country, gender, and age.

About the Advertiser:

Ads in the European Union must disclose the beneficiary (who benefits from the ad) and the payer (who pays for the ad). Often, this is the same entity.

Beneficiary and Payer:

Basic details about the company running the ads.

Moreover, for ads outside the European Union, you’ll get an overview of active and inactive ads, but that’s about it.

So, in this Meta ads Library, you won’t see details on spending, estimated audience size, audience breakdown, and more. It’s mostly just the ad itself.

What To Do When Facebook Ad Library Ad Snapshot URLs are Broken?

If you’ve figured out how to use cURL on Terminal, you might be familiar with entering cURL queries with specific parameters.

Thus, here’s a breakdown of what happens: 👇

So, when you enter a cURL query in Terminal, you specify the URL and any necessary parameters to fetch data from a server. For example, you might be querying the Facebook Ad Library API to retrieve information about ads.

The server responds with a block of text, often in JSON format, which includes details such as the ad ID, ad snapshot URL, and ad delivery start time.

This text can be large and un-indented, making it hard to read directly in Terminal. Also, a common issue is that the ad snapshot URLs provided in the response might not work.

Therefore, if you’ve encountered issues with broken ad snapshot URLs from the Facebook Ad Library API, you’re not alone.

Many users experience this problem when querying ad data using tools like cURL in Terminal.

Thus, here’s a step-by-step guide to resolving this issue by exporting the JSON results and processing them in R:

1. Install the rjson Package in R:

First, ensure you have the rjson package installed in R. This package allows you to read JSON data and convert it into R objects.

R

install.packages(“rjson”)

2. Load the rjson Library:

Load the package into your R session to start using its functions.

library(“rjson”)

3. Read and Convert JSON Data:

Use the fromJSON function to read your JSON results file and convert it into an R list.

result <- fromJSON(file = “myresults.json”)

print(result)

4. Convert JSON to Data Frame:

Transform the JSON data into a data frame for easier manipulation and analysis.

json_data_frame <- as.data.frame(result)

print(json_data_frame)

5. Check and Format URLs:

Inspect the data frame to verify that the ad snapshot URLs are correctly formatted. If necessary, ensure the URLs match the required structure:

json_data_frame$url <- paste0(“https://www.facebook.com/ads/archive/render_ad/?id=”, json_data_frame$id, “&access_token=YOUR_ACCESS_TOKEN”)

By following these steps, you can ensure that your ad snapshot URLs are properly formatted and functional.

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Conclusion

Using the Meta Ads Library can significantly boost your competitive edge in digital marketing. By exploring your competitors’ ad strategies, you gain valuable insights into their creative approaches and messaging.

My advice is to regularly monitor this tool, not just for spying, but for continuous learning and inspiration.

Thus, using the Meta ads library you can understand your competition, find fresh ad ideas, and benchmark your own performance.

About the Author

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Aleksandra Miteva
Aleksandra teaches marketing and management at various levels in High School. She writes about marketing, the economics and logistics of the dropshipping business and ecommerce in general.
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