How to Spy on Your Competitors’ Facebook and Twitter Ads


Greater transparency in online advertising

In the wake of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, Facebook, Twitter, and Google and other digital advertising brokers have received criticism for their mishandling of false news, personal information, and divisive targeted advertising. Facebook reported roughly $100,000 invested into divisive ads, while Twitter sold over $270,000 worth of ads to accounts linked to Russian state-owned media.

Members from both parties have pushed for greater transparency in the advertising industry. In response, all three major platforms have made significant changes to their advertising policies. Google has suspended all local election advertising, and now Facebook and Twitter have made all online ads available to the public.

In addition to being informed about how companies advertise to you, the new feature is an excellent way to understand your competitors’ Facebook advertising strategy.

To showcase these new features, we’ll look at the competitive telecommunications industry, using AT&T and T-Mobile as examples.

How to view competitor ads on Facebook

To spy on your competitors’ Facebook ads, start by selecting a brand with a page on Facebook, Instagram or Facebook Company Products. This should work even if you are not part of the target audience or location.

1. Search for the page using Facebook’s search engine.


2. Select Info and Ads in the left column.


3. All active ads should now show up in the feed. Note on the right side you can also see when the page was created, whether the page name was changed, or if any of the ads have political content.


4. While AT&T doesn’t have any previous name changes, competitor T-Mobile has one. This could show attempts to generate more traffic through keyword research or misspelled words.


How to view competitor ads on Twitter

For Twitter, there is now a special page dedicated to finding ads on the social network, including Sponsored tweets and suspended ads. If the ad was for a federal election campaign, you can even see the funding organization and the targeted demographics used.

1. Head over to the Twitter Ads Transparency Center.

2. In the top right hand, search for a particular brand. We’ll continue our example with T-Mobile.


3. Your feed should now update to display that brand’s promoted tweets as of the previous 7 days.

Generating insights: what to watch for

With these two tools, it becomes relatively easy to analyze a brand’s paid social media strategy. Many brands won’t even advertise on social media, but the ones that do are definitely worth investigating. Even if they aren’t in your niche, it’s worth analyzing the posts promoted by the biggest brands, including:

  • Ad copy – Brands have to work with a text character limit, and only have seconds to capture attention. What words do they use to inform and captivate?
  • Imagery – We could write a whole post about imagery in online ads. Similar to text constraints, there are image constraints. What colors, shapes, and angles are used? Which features are highlighted more than others?
  • Call-to-action – How does the brand encourage readers to move on to the next step? Is it a discount, a free download, or a special package?
  • Date and Time – Some days and times lead to greater engagement than others. When were these posts published?
  • Engagement – While only some ads will yield significant engagement, it’s still worth noting which ones had the greatest impact. Which type of post was most popular? Which ones drew the most discussion? What did people say in the comments?

An analysis is just the first step in planning your social media strategy. The question is how will you use these findings in developing your own ads?

If you’re interested in how Arcalea can help build your social media marketing strategy, visit our page here.

To learn other tips for building your brand’s social media presence, follow Arcalea’s blog today.

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