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Facebook Ad Library: Steal Your Competitors Winning Ads In 5 Simple Steps

Would you like to spy on, even steal the most money-making ads of your competitors? 

In this post, I’m going to show you EXACTLY how to do that using the Facebook Ad Library

In fact, I’ve documented step-by-step how I research a competitor, replicate his ads, target his customers and get massive engagement and clicks for peanuts:

(The costs are in my local currency, don’t be too surprised!)

Ready to do the same?

Let’s dive in.

Disclaimer: All the information in this article is for demonstration purposes only. I will show you how to find your competitors best ads and use them to your advantage, but I’m not suggesting you should straight up copy them. 

What is the Facebook Ad Library? 

Basically, it’s a searchable collection of all the active advertisements on Facebook, on its apps and its services (including Instagram).

If you think it sounds familiar, you’re not mistaken.

When Facebook first rolled out this feature, it looked like this:

In 2019, they remove this feature from the menu and built a dedicated page, the Ad Library.

Facebook Ad Library

The purpose of this website is to give transparency to people about what they see. 

For us savvy marketers, it’s a spying tool to find what is already working and use it for our benefits.

Because let’s face it… It’s smart to do testing, it’s even smarter to test something that has proven to work for others.

Step #1: Find Your Competitors Using The Insight Tool

This is a powerful step.

If you learn this method, you’ll be able to target specific Facebook pages that your customers follow.

Allowing you to reach only the right people, spend less on advertising, while getting jaw-dropping results.

Luckily, there’s a free tool for this job, and I’ll show you how to use it the right way.

First, go over to Facebook Business and register a free account.

As the name suggests, Business Manager allows you to manage all your pages, advertising accounts, pixels and audiences in one place.

After answering a few questions, your account is ready.

Next, log-in, click on the menu in the top left corner and scroll down to select Audience Insights.

You want to reach “Everyone on Facebook”, so select this option.

Selecting the right demographics will be key to your research.

Important information is customer location, age range, interest and in some instances, gender.

In my case study, Frank Kern is going to be my chosen competitor, who’s a famous internet marketer.

For the location, I’m going to target countries with strong economies, namely, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.

For the age range, I’ll go for people above the age of 25. 

They probably have a debit or credit card, have a job and able to purchase my imaginary “digital products”.

For the interest, I’m going to type in “Frank Kern”.

Once Facebook has done it’s magic, you will see the audience size of your competitor and the next step is to click on Page Likes.

Wait for the information to load, then scroll down to the Page Likes section.

This is the list of Facebook pages that people like, who also like your chosen competitor.

You want more information to work with, so click on the See More button on the bottom of the page 5 times.

This will expand your list to 50 Facebook page names.

Got it? Good.

Now, you want to select the names of all 50 Pages.

Starting from the bottom, press down the left mouse button and slowly scroll to the top. 

Look… I know you know how to select something. 

The reason I’m telling this is that if you scroll too fast, you’re going to lose your selection.

When you selected the 50 names, press right-click and “copy”.

Next, open up a blank Excel spreadsheet or Google document.

Click inside cell “A1”, press right-click again, then “paste”.

Don’t worry about the formatting.

Once it’s done, take a good look at your list and find someone who’s similar to the original competitor that you’ve chosen.

When you find one, go back to the left panel in Audience Insights and type this competitor’s name into the Interest field.

Make sure to click on the cross to delete your previous competitor.

You only want to take a look at one at a time.

Next, repeat the process that you just did…

  1. Click on Page Likes
  2. Scroll down to Page Likes section
  3. Click on the See More button 5 times
  4. Copy the list of 50 Facebook page names
  5. Go to the bottom of the spreadsheet and paste the names

Last step, repeat the whole process once again until you have a total of 150 names on your Excel list.

Okay, let’s tidy up your spreadsheet.

Select all the columns from B to D and delete them.

Looks better, isn’t it?

Now select column A, press right-click on top and arrange the names in ascending order.

You will see something like this:

Go on, until you have single names on the list.

Step #2: Plug Your Competitors Into Facebook Ad Library

In this step, you will peek behind the curtain to uncover the advertisements your competitors run.

Go to the Facebook Ad Library and type in the name of one of your competitors, then click on the relevant page name.

Next, you probably not going to see anything.

Don’t worry!

This is because the “Issues, Elections and Politics” type of ads are shown as default.

Click on All Ads and use the Filter By function on the left to select a location.

This way you can check out the ads they run, broken down by countries.

By default, you’re going to see your own country.

You can also click “All” to show all of their ads, regardless of location.

Now, if you’re lucky and your competitor uses Facebook for advertising, you will see a whole bunch of ads here!

Step #3: Analyze The Best Advertisements

Next up, time to find the best ads!

This is crucial because you don’t want to burn money testing ideas that won’t work.

Tip: Like your competitor’s Facebook page and visit their website to be retargeted by ads. This way you’ll know which of the ads they use for people who already know them.

To find the winning ads you need some intuition. 

The goal here is to ‘guess’ who might be the target audience of each ad.

Let’s jump back to my example with Frank and you’ll see what I mean.

As I start scrolling down, I notice that all of Frank’s ads have the exact same copy, he’s just testing different images and headlines.

Except for one ad. Interesting.

Let’s click on the See Ad Details button to take a closer look.

This advertisement, unlike the others, has a long-form copy.

My wild guess is, this is the ad that he’s running for a cold audience.

Meaning, for people who don’t know him yet.

The headline “How To Get Customers Online” is nice and simple, yet it doesn’t speak to a specific audience.

I also notice that is ad has been running for a while.

Wonderful!

The older the ad the better, because your competitor would only run an ad for a long time if it’s profitable.

Makes sense, right?

Next, I want you to go through a couple of ads and try to figure out why they work.

  • What is the copy about?
  • Do they use short of long-form copy?
  • Does the copy draw you in?
  • Do they use video or image format?
  • Do they put text on the image or video?
  • Does the headline sound good enough to make you click?

…and so on.

The more time you spend understanding what they do and why they do it, the better chance you have of cracking the code of their success.

When you found a few winners, it’s time to…

Step #4: Make Your Version

At this stage, you’re ready to test your theories and create your own advertisement variations.

This is what I did.

I took Frank’s ad that I just showed you, memorized the copy, then created a video where I explain similar informations:

Why I used a video instead of copying his image?

First of all, moving creatives draws more attention in almost every case.

(This is largely due to our evolutional instincts by the way. Fascinating topic!)

Two, with Facebook’s advertising features, I can create remarketing campaigns for people who have watched a portion of my video.

It’s important to note, especially with video, that you don’t need to produce super high-quality content.

Most of the time (thankfully this is where the world is heading) authenticity works best.

For me, I picked up my phone and simply recorded myself talking to the camera.

Then, using free software, I’ve put a large caption under the video to make sure it grabs even more attention.

Take your time and create an equally good or better ad content.

It’s not mandatory, but I suggest you use video format as well because I’m going to use that in my example to show you some advanced methods that bring mind-boggling results!

When you’re ready, you’re going to…

Step #5: Craft The Advertisements

This is where the fun begins!

You’re going to create your own advertisement variations, and for that, you need to go back to Facebook Business.

Go to the top left corner, open the menu and select the Ads Manager.

Next, click on + Create to start building a campaign.

At this stage, you will create an Engagement campaign.

…wait. Not traffic or conversions?

Nope, here’s why…

1. You will spend pennies in reaching your audience which is great for testing

2. There is a high overlap between the “Engagement” and “Conversions” groups

In plain English, by using the Engagement objective, you also reach people who generally convert better, only you pay a fraction of the cost.

Onward.

Select Engagement, select Post engagement and then give your Campaign a name.

Okay.

Next up, you’re going to decide who will see your advertisement, this is the most important part of any campaign.

I’ll continue with my Frank Kern example.

I’ve targeted the big four countries, set my age group between 25 to 55 and made sure to target English speakers.

My target is Frank Kern only in this test, but notice the gigantic arrow pointing at exclusions?

I use this to make sure that people who have…

  • Engaged with my page in the past 90 days
  • Have visited my website in 90 days
  • Watched at least 10 seconds of my “cold” video

…don’t see this cold campaign video once again.

This way I don’t bombard them with the same ad and that saves me money as well.

If you never used custom audiences, don’t worry about this step.

Tip: When choosing the location of your customers, make sure to select “People living in this location”. This is to avoid targeting tourists and travellers.

Last steps on this page are choosing a daily budget and selecting the placement.

The daily budget can be as low as a couple of dollars for testing.

For choosing placements, in other words, where your advertisements will be shown, you have two options.

  1. You can leave it on Automatic. 

This works in most cases, Facebook will test everything and optimize for the channels that perform best.

  1. You can manually select where you want to show your ads.

For me, I only want to show my ads in the…

  • Facebook News Feed
  • Instagram Feed
  • Facebook Video Feeds
  • Instagram Explore
  • Facebook In-Stream Videos
  • Facebook Instant Articles

The rest of the options are not very useful for my video.

Right. You’re done with the Ad Set settings.

Scroll to the top to give the Ad Set a name, then scroll down once again to click Continue.

Next, you’re going to create the Ad itself.

First of all, select your Facebook page (and Instagram, if you have) that you want to use for running these ads.

If you don’t see any of your pages here, then your page is not connected to your Business Manager yet.

If you do, click here to skip this part.

Follow this procedure:

  1. Open a new tab in your browser
  2. Go to Facebook Business and log-in to your business
  3. Open the menu on the top left corner
  4. Click on Business Settings
  5. Open the Accounts panel on the left
  6. Click on Pages
  7. Click on Add, then Add a Page

Start typing in the name of your page, and if you have administrator rights, you can simply add it to your account.

Now, go back to the tab where you were creating the ad.

Click on any of the Ad Set links:

  • Audience
  • Placements
  • Budget & Schedule

After the page loaded, click on Identity.

This will take you back to where you were with ad creation, but it refreshed the list of pages.

You can select your page from the drop-down list now.

Now, you can either create a new ad or use an existing post.

If you’re creating a new ad…

  • Add the media files (images, videos)
  • Write your copy
  • Use a call to action button (“Learn More” works best based on tests)
  • Type in the URL of the website where you want to drive your traffic

If you don’t want to create a new ad, post your content to your Facebook page.

You’ll use this as an “existing post”.

Click on Existing Post, then click on Select Post.

This will bring up a new panel, where you can select the source of your post, then select the post itself to use for the ad.

Ready?

Great!

Go down to tracking section and if you have a Facebook pixel installed on your website, select it.

If all looks good, launch the ad and that’s it!

How To Get Even Better Results

In this chapter I’ll show you the results I got and what steps can you do next, to squeeze out even better numbers.

As I started the campaign, I got 747 engagements on my first day, while paying a mere $0,0032 per engagement.

Not too shabby.

Laser Targeting

After a few days (marked with the arrow above), I decided to narrow down my targeting to people who already spend on Facebook advertising.

I’ve edited the audience and added the following behaviors…

  • Facebook Payments users (90 days)
  • Facebook Payments users (30 days)
  • Facebook Payments users (higher than average spend)

Notice the “and must also match” part that I underlined?

This is where you intersect two (or more) audiences. 

Some marketers like to call this “laser targeting”, because it sounds fancy and so it must be amazing. Marketing…

Point is, by crossing two audiences I reach people who are interested in Frank Kern AND who’re already spending on Facebook Ads.

This decision increased my cost per engagement to $0,013 but that’s not a problem, because I now reach a much better targeted audience.

Creating “Lookalikes”

How do you reach more people similar to your customers?

By targeting lookalikes!

When people take action on your Facebook page or your website, your Facebook Pixel is collecting all the data.

Which is great, because you can use it to target similar people (based on their data profile).

To do that, go to the top left menu again, open it and select Audience.

Next, click on Create Audience and then select Custom Audience.

By creating a Custom Audience, you basically put certain people in a group who have done some sort of action on your Facebook page or website.

There are many options to choose from, but because I used a video for my campaign, I’m going to select “Video” in this example.

First, you want to select how far Facebook should look back for data.

I picked 365 days.

Next, give your audience an easy to remember name, then click inside the “Choose a content type” field.

Here you can see all the relevant actions that users take when watching your video.

My video is quite short with its 1:46 duration, and I want to put people in a group who seem to be really interested in what I have to say.

Let’s select “People who have watched 50%” of my video.

Last step, click “Choose videos…” and select the videos that you’d like to include.

Once you’re done, click Create Audience.

Alright!

You have now created a Custom Audience for people who watched 50% of your video in the past 365 days.

Now, you want to create a second audience, and these are going to be the people who are similar to the guys in the first group.

(Facebook can find them based on various data points. Quite amazing!)

On the left, click Create Audience and select Lookalike Audience.

Then start to type in the name of the Custom Audience that you created.

Click Other Sources (you’ll find your audience here).

Then click on the data source.

Now type in the location you want to target.

As the locations for me were the “big four” in my original campaign, I’m going to select these.

It is important to know that you have to have at least 100 actions from the selected location to be able to create a lookalike.

Meaning, with my example, there must be 100 people from each location who have watched at least 50% of the video otherwise I can’t save the lookalike audience.

After selecting the location, leave the Audience Size at 1% and click Create Audience.

The last step is duplicating your original Ad Set while changing the audience to your lookalike.

This is what you need to do…

  1. Go to the top left menu (9 little dots)
  2. Click Ads Manager
  3. Open the campaign that you made
  4. Find the Ad Set, then click Duplicate

Next, click Create New Audience.

In the Include section, look for the Lookalike Audience that you created.

Then open the Exclude section and select the Custom Audience that you made (people who watched a portion of your video).

Like this…

Okay, last time to check your budget and you can click Publish!

I ran the lookalike campaign for a couple of days so I can show you some numbers:

As you can see my average cost per action was $0,0097 and that proves that Facebook is able to find customers similar to your, using its complex algorithm. 

Magic!

Conclusions

If you followed each step, you have learned how to research your competitor with Insights, analyze their best ads using Facebook Ad Library, and use the information to your advantage to create winning campaigns.

You also learned how to create custom audiences and target people who’re similar to your customers.

And I tell you something even more exciting.

You can virtually automate your customer acquisition with these steps!

Think about it.

Your cold campaigns are reaching new people.

You put them in a separate group, showing them more content, “warming” them up.

Then you could create conversion campaigns to turn them into customers.

How about that?

Now I’d Like to Hear From You

What’s your experience with Facebook Ads?

Have you used Ad Library with success before?

Did you enjoy this tutorial?

Let me know in the comments below, right now!

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