How to Spy on Competitors’ Facebook Ad Strategy


How to Spy on Competitors’ Facebook Ad Strategy

Picture this: One fine Saturday, while enjoying morning tea, you log into your Facebook, the largest social media channel in the world, and are promptly greeted by an advertisement from one of your competitors. They are running a carousel of product images depicting their Black Friday promos. Blasted! Your competitor is reaching out to a demographic by using a strategy that your brand is not.

There are two issues to address. The first issue is that retailers are advertising Black Friday deals earlier each year! Amazon officially launched the holiday shopping season on November 1. Black Friday retail sales declined $1 billion last year. Early promotions like Amazon’s cannibalize the turkey day weekend sales. Holiday shopping might be a time-honored tradition but the race to the mall is fading.

The second issue is the increasing use of social media advertising to reach targeted age ranges. If you are already on tracking social media growth and sales, then this is not an issue. However, if your posts are having trouble getting through the algorithm then a paid strategy may give you a boost to an acceptable ROI.

Your brand is not even on the playing field if your social media game plan is not a serious and tracked part of your marketing strategy. Revisiting your own social media plan is an important part of keeping current with trends and effective campaigns.

Brands I work with plan out their marketing calendars months in advance. Marketing must evolve with changing landscapes and sometimes that requires a mid-quarter strategy shift. Fortunately, the barrier to entry for social media ads is low and most options are open to all budgets.

A thorough social media audit involves identifying and monitoring competitors. If you own a small business you might not view global brands as competitors. We can still learn a lot from what they do and how they execute. If you are a brand with a large social media following and a diverse marketing plan, then monitoring competitors is important for identifying missed opportunities and tracking progress.

So why did you see your competitor’s advertisement on social media? Certainly you are not buying from them! There are unlimited combinations of factors that can result in you falling into any advertiser’s targeting bucket. The simplest is that you visited their website recently. Advertisers using tracking pixels can opt to show social media ads to those that have visited their website. A narrower target would be to show the ads to those who have visited within a certain timeframe or fall within a certain age range.

My latest video featured on Entrepreneur Magazine online video channel talks about how to see your competitor’s Facebook ad targeting.

This is a form of behavior targeting and is often used as part of re-marketing strategies. For example if a shopper visited a website with the past week but did NOT hit the thank you page of the checkout then that person is a good shopper to re-target. Why? Because they have intention (they visited the website) but did not convert (they did not pay for anything.) Someone who visited the website and added products to their online shopping cart but did not pay is an even better candidate for re-marketing.

Potential customers can be targeted or excluded as targets based on email lists, interests, behaviors, gender, age, past buying decisions and hundreds of other factors. This type of targeting is available on the major social channels: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. It is really all a copy of what AdWords begin.

Like any marketing plan, a successful Facebook campaign involves trial and error. Advertisers must find the right mix of audience targeting, an appropriate offer, creatives that resonate with that audience, and an optimized landing page.

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