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How to Spy on Your Competitor’s Facebook & Instagram Ads

By Kristina
15 Jun, 2021
6 min read

Wouldn’t it be great to know what your competitors are doing on social media?

It sure would! And now you can. 

Social media is one of the most important marketing channels. Why? The whole world shops, subscribes, starts conversations, and researches brands on social media.

If you are looking to start and maintain conversations with potential customers, posting and advertising on Facebook or Instagram is a must! 

So where should you begin? Analyzing your competition is the first step. 

In this article, you’ll find out what tools you need to spy on your competitor’s Facebook and Instagram ads, what metrics to pay attention to, and ways in which you can use that information to your benefit.

Why spy on your competitor’s social media?

Why spy on your competitor’s social media?

Everyone spies on their competition. Spying levels out the playground and advances the industry. It raises the quality of products and content.

You should be spying on your competitor’s Facebook and Instagram ads to:

  • Get a head start. Insights on what your competition is doing give you a head start and can help you avoid wasting time on trial and error. 
  • Find out which ads perform and which don’t. The industry giants you’re aiming to outshine are well passed the learning phase. Analyze their ads. Look at what works and find ways to implement it into your campaigns. 
  • Target the right audience. Read more about this in the Why am I Seeing This Ad section of this article.

Not convinced yet? Here are two biggest reasons to spy on your competitor’s ads:

  • Save time. Knowing how other companies position products, reach customers, and invest in advertising will save you time when it comes to planning your own advertising campaigns. 
  • Save money. Hiring researchers, analysts, and advertising agencies to do market research is an expensive and lengthy process. Researching what your competition is doing on social media is much faster and cheaper. 

Where can you find your competitor’s Facebook ads?

1. Facebook’s Ad Library

Facebook’s Ad Library

The most popular tool to find your competitor’s ads is Facebook’s Ad Library. 

The Facebook Ad Library was created as a part of Facebook’s transparency policy, which was implemented due to political ads purchased during election periods: “Transparency is a priority for us to help prevent interference in elections, so the Ad Library also shows you additional information about these ads, such as who funded the ad, a range of how much they spent and the reach of the ad across multiple demographics.” says Facebook.

How to find your competitor’s ads in the Facebook Ads Library:

  1. Go to your competitor’s Facebook page.
  2. Scroll down to the Page Transparency section.
  3. Click on See All.
How to find your competitor’s ads in the Facebook Ads Library
  1. Scroll down and click on the Go To Ad Library button.  
Go To Ad Library button
  1. Voila! You’re inside your competitor’s Facebook Ad Library.
Facebook Ad Library


Go straight to the Facebook Ad Library app.

You can use the Facebook Ad Library even if you don’t have a Facebook account. 


2. Follow your competitor’s Facebook page

You can also see your competitor’s Facebook ads by following their page. However, you’ll only see ads that are targeted to you. For example, if they are running ads that target people from another country, you likely won’t see those ads. 

3. Why am I seeing this ad? 

Why am I seeing this ad?

Get demographic insights into your competitor’s ads. When your competitor’s ad shows up on your newsfeed or the right column, click on the “More Options” icon (the three dots at the top right corner). 

Then, click “Why am I seeing this ad?” and you’ll discover the demographics the ad creator chose to target, for example, women aged 16 to 55 who live or have recently been in Chicago

This information is useful when you want to know more about the audience your competitor is targeting with Facebook ads.

How to find your competitor’s Instagram ads?

How to find your competitor’s Instagram ads?

To find your competitor’s Instagram ads, go to the Facebook Ad Library. Then, filter your competitor’s ads by the platform the ads run on, for example, Instagram, audience network, or messenger. 

Filter your competitor’s ads by the platform

You can also check out ads on your competitor’s Instagram page. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to your competitor’s Instagram page.
  2. Click on the More Options icon (the three dots at the top right corner).
  3. Click the About This Account button.
Instagram about this account

In the About This Account section, you’ll find the Active Ads button which shows all the ads that the account is running. Filter them by clicking feed or stories ads. 

What to pay attention to when spying on Facebook ads

What to pay attention to when spying on Facebook ads

It’s important to know what to look for and what to pay attention to when doing your research. 

Here’s what you should pay close attention to:

1. Impressions 

To see the best performing ads your competitor is running, filter them by impressions. Impressions define how many times an ad was shown on the screen for the first time. 

2. Type of Media 

Video and Image ad

Video or Images? Maybe neither? The type of ads your competition is running will help you find the right balance between video and image ads. If the competitor is running multiple ads, filter them by impressions first, and then see which visual dominates. 

3. Messaging

According to research, high-quality copy drives 7.8 times more site traffic and increases engagement rate. Pay close attention to the headline of the text, to the length of the body, the value proposition, the pain points addressed, and the call to action in the message.    

4. Ad Running Duration

Filter your competitor’s ads by duration. Go back as far as 90 days and find ads that are still running. Facebook marketers usually stick to well-performing ads. Ads that run for long periods of time indicate success.  

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5. Offers and Deals

Keep an eye on your competitor’s deals and offers ads. Does your competitor advertise free shipping, discount codes, or other incentives? Do they provide discounts and why? Take note of their tactics and find where you can do better. 

6. Target people who like your competitor’s Facebook Page

This is the most devious tactic, but it’s very useful and widely used by Facebook advertisers. When creating your ads, choose to target people who liked your competitor’s Facebook page. 

Competitor’s Organic News Feed

Competitor’s Organic News Feed

Analyzing your competitor’s organic news feed is just as important as researching their ads. Go through the content on their Facebook page to gain insight into their overall marketing strategy. 

To find the most engaging posts, look for the highest number of likes, comments, and shares. When you find them, pay attention to their visuals (photo or video?), their messaging (headline, value proposition, length), and CTA (call to action). 

Automate The Research Process With Tools

Conclusion: Automate The Research Process With Tools

The processes, strategies, and tactics described above are widely recognized and used by businesses. To create a successful social media advertising strategy, you will need to find what works for you and your business. Once you do, automate everything you can to save time and money! 

If you look hard enough you can likely find an automation tool for anything you could ever imagine, but the two tools that seem to be the most beneficial for social media automation are Zappier and IFTTT.

What are Zappier and IFTTT?

They are tools designed to connect apps and automate everyday processes. They integrate with other apps you use on daily basis and allow you to focus on more important responsibilities, while they perform routine tasks. 

Ready to take on the social media world? Check out our article on how to sell on Facebook Messenger to dive even deeper!


I'm a content manager at sixads. I'm fiery about marketing, writing and traveling, so you can often find me scribbling away in some unknown corner of the world. If you want to know more ways to increase traffic and attract buyers to your online store get in touch with sixads on one of the channels bellow.