Facebook has been working to ensure that Facebook Advertising has increased transparency and gives people more information about the ads that they see and the pages who serve them. At the end of March 2019, Facebook rolled out their improved ‘Ad Library’ that works like an archive, storing Facebook Ads from anyone who chooses to serve them (both past and present). This has been made visible on business pages and influential people’s pages too.
Facebook Ad Library was originally launched last October (2018) to gain access to and analyse political ads, also ensuring that news publishers were exempt from labelling ads that were related to political issues. This was a great step forward for transparency when it came to global and political issues.
… but it’s also a game changer for ecommerce brands for the when, what and how their competitors are marketing to their audiences through Facebook advertising.
Firstly, what can you see within the Ad Library?
Before you get to the ads themselves there are a few statistics about the page of the advertiser that you can understand from the offset.
- When the page was originally created
- If the page has changed names
- If the page has been merged with other pages
- The locations of people who manage the page
This is helpful for a couple of different reasons.
Page name changes
If you, as a consumer, are looking to see if a company you’ve previously bought from (or was previously a competitor) has simply changed their name on Facebook and are now trading under a different company name. This can be especially useful for consumers who want to ensure they’re not purchasing from a company that they have previously had a bad experience with.
If a business has multiple pages for different regions or services, this could explain why one single page for a company suddenly has a boost in both following, engagement and position. It’s now possible to see when a company has merged multiple pages to form one, with a solid and clear message from a single page.
Facebook Ad Library transparency
When it comes to the ads themselves, it gives the viewer the opportunity to see the exact content brands are sharing. As an ecommerce business it really opens up the forum for competitor analysis and understanding your competitors strategy and if they’ve found any sweet spots.
Before we might have added the Facebook Pixel Helper (for those of us who use Chrome) as an extension to reference whether a site did or didn’t have a Facebook pixel for data tracking. This, at least, allowed us to guess that a brand had Facebook serving ads or were building up a custom audience from particular ecommerce pages. We might have been served those ads if we fell into the specific audience requirements set by the brand, but we might not have gained that insight either. There were a lot of assumptions and it was all a bit of a waiting game.
Ads Library allows anyone to browse through any ads that a brand is serving through Facebook Ads Manager. That includes both active and inactive ads (past and present) with reference to the dates in which the ad began and finished serving.
Active and Inactive ads: why does this insight matter?
In my opinion, this is one of the most important insights that the Ad Library has to offer so far. Whilst it might seem like an irrelevant add on, when referenced against your own marketing activities and revenue, conversion rate and product performance, it offers some interesting insight into some potential discrepancies in your own analytics.
If a competitor is pushing one of your best sellers at a lower value than your own ecommerce, then that could affect your sales of the product, especially if they’re getting the offer in front of a customer first. Whilst audiences might differ slightly, Facebook’s algorithms are smart and understand that if you’ve looked at one company with similar products, you might be interested in another’s too. Those ads will reach your audience, impress upon them multiple times and then that audience might well take their business to the cheaper option.
Reference your competitors advertisement dates against your Google Analytics and see if there have been momentary drops in product sales whilst their ads have been running.
Copy content: what messaging are competitors using?
Inspiring and captivating copy is the difference between making a sale and not. As an ecommerce marketer or advertiser, that’s your shot at causing pause and tempting your potential audience to click your call to action. Ad Library allows for a spotlight on a competitor to see exactly what message is being shared with their audience.
What benefits about their service or their products are they highlighting? What needs or pain points of their audience are they fulfilling? In some cases, when we consider the age old rivalry between Pepsi and Coke, what are they saying or suggesting about your brand that could have a negative effect on your own sales and positioning? Dollar Shave Club, has been serving Ads for starter sets since August 6th, playing upon their business model of making customers look, feel and smell their best. Using imagery that reflects the ease of their subscription to your door that’s simple and puts you in the position of the person holding the package with a ‘this could be you’ sense of feeling and asks you to ‘Try the Club’.
Where as the their competitor, Harry’s uses their message is to advertise the three reasons why 10+ million guys tried their subscription model using simple videos to show their product and redeem a trial set for as little as £3.95. They started their advertisement a week after DSC, which begs the question, had they seen a dip in their subscription sales? Are they working hard to take the lion’s share of the subscription razor market?
Artwork: how are they capturing attention?
When it comes to mobile users, we’ve fallen into a world of swipes and clicks and a desperate need to disrupt with micro moments. Imagery is a huge factor in social media marketing and advertising and with 3.2 billion mobile social media users around the world, 68% of them being Facebook users, it goes within saying that it’s the most popular network to speak to an audience.
But we’re an inherently busy audience that doesn’t have time for anyone or anything. We aimlessly swipe in moments of downtime and that time is growing longer by the day, with an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes spent on social networks.
That’s why imagery is so important in causing your audience to stop and digest your content. Eye capturing photography, infographics, infotainment videos and animations. HubSpot’s study found that 54% of consumers would love to see more video content from brands. Why? Audiences want to be entertained and want to interpret and understand messages more quickly.
If your competitors are putting out better content than you are, if their images or videos are of greater quality, then it begs the question for consumers; are they better because they’re putting more into their marketing? Do they care more? Are their services better because they look better?
Call to action: what action are they driving?
Shop now? Get offer? Learn more? Fill out a form? There are a lot of possible call to actions with Facebook Ads and whilst they may look generic, dependant on the Ad type, they could be sending a potential customers to an even more powerful service or product landing page that’s going to generate that all important style. Try clicking on the CTA on the Ad within Ad Library and see what journey and experience your competitors are sending their audience to. Is it an instant experience (previously canvas ads), a landing page or direct to a product page? It could make all the difference in switching up the strategy you’re using for your own ads to engage audiences.
Whilst it’s not yet possible to see reach and spend within the Ad Library for all ads (this can be seen for political Ads) in the future, this might be a key statistic that is represented to help better understand the spend brands are putting into their social advertisements. Ad Library, however, has made advertisements a lot more transparent and easier to see the landscape of a competitors market when it comes to Facebook and Instagram Ads.