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Facebook Ads Library: what it is, how to use it, and why your marketing needs it

Want to take a dive into your competitor’s ads data and learn from their mistakes and successes, at zero cost to yourself? Facebook Ads Library is here to help you out.

In the world of digital marketing, data is almost as valuable as money, if not even more so. What kind of ads can reach which demographics and at which budget, which types of campaigns work better for different products, and which angles of approach are better left untested – knowing all of that and making good use of this knowledge is what makes a difference between a waste of budget and an increase in sales.

It is not uncommon for businesses to build their marketing using a trial and error method, testing multiple different ad campaigns at once, then redirecting resources to those that work best. But what if there was a way to identify the best approach right from the start? What if you could directly learn from your competition’s failures and successes and use their experience to make educated decisions for your Facebook ad strategy? Facebook Ad Library makes all of that possible.

Table of Contents

What is Facebook Ads Library?

Originally created to dispel controversies and conspiracy theories around political ads, Facebook Ad library is, at its core, precisely what its name implies – a database of all active ads currently running on the social media platform and those that were active in the past 7 years.

By using it, you can search for the businesses, product categories, or keywords you are interested in and see all the matching ads that are or were running on Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network, or Messenger, the time frames when those ads were active and getting impressions, and other ad details. This is a great way to get inspiration for your own ads and, with a little detective work, assess the effectiveness of other businesses’ ads.

How to access Facebook Ad Library?

The only thing you need to do is open this link. You do not need to be logged into your Facebook account, or even have one.

Here, you can select the country and the category of ad you are interested in, then type a keyword or a company’s name in the search bar. Some countries can have limited category options, but Facebook Ad library should always give you at least two: all ads and politically inclined ads. While the latter can be a curious direction to discover, we are more interested in less socially impactful and more profit-generating kinds of ads.

After you have decided what you want to look for, you should see something resembling the image above. By clicking See ad details, you can look at who created this ad, and when, and scroll through multiple versions of the same ad, if it has any. If you are simply searching for inspiration while designing your own ad, this might be enough for you. But if you want to dig a little deeper into Facebook Ad Library, Filters is what you want to click on.

Here, you have several options that can narrow down your search.

  • Languages, while looking a little redundant considering you’ve already selected a country, can be a great way to find ads targeted at foreign tourists, or discover what tactics are used with different demographics in bilingual countries like Canada, Finland or Norway.

  • Advertiser allows you to select the advertisers you are interested in. Choose your competitors, or a business you feel inspired by, and see what they are up to.

  • Platform – here you can choose between Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network, or Messenger. An ad that works well on one platform is often a subpar choice for another. This filter is how you learn what makes a difference.

  • Media lets you select exactly what kind of ads you want to be seeing on your screen. This way, you can discover different ad creatives and find inspiration for your own Facebook ads. Sometimes, though, this filter can be imprecise and show you images when you want memes.

  • Active status is rather self-explanatory. One important thing to remember here is that the data you will be allowed to see for active ads is rather limited compared to those that have already been suspended.

  • Impressions by date – this allows you to see ads that have been displayed within the time frame you specify.

Using Facebook Ad library to improve your Facebook ads campaign

Now that you know how to get the data from Facebook ad library, it’s time for a hard truth: your competitors probably know this too. And with Facebook ad library being a free tool, they are probably using it as you are reading these lines to improve their Facebook ad campaigns.

One of the ways you can make their attempts to take your piece of the market futile is by learning to use Facebook ad library better than them. We are about to tell you how.

Get inspired

It is always easier to create something new when you have creative inspiration, or a reference, before you. Take a look at ads promoting products similar to yours that have been going on for a while and take in the small details that make them work, then use them to make your ad creative and effective. What was the first thing you noticed when you saw them? What is the color palette? How does it look against Facebook’s background and UI? What about the call to action?

By analyzing all that and more, you can get an idea of how to craft an ad that works without having to figure it out by yourself from scratch, saving you time, money, and sanity.

And if you need some extra pointers on how to design a creative and engaging ad, check out this article.

Make use of other people’s A/B testing

If you’ve been doing marketing for a while, you should probably know how important A/B testing is. This is a tool that allows you to find out what visuals or CTAs work best for the particular demographics you are targeting. Usually, this involves some costly trial and error. But it doesn’t have to.

Observing the different variants of the same ad on Facebook Ad Library, you can deduce the A/B testing processes going on in their creators’ marketing. And paying close attention to which variations stay and which go allows you to figure out the results of those tests, all without having to spend money on your own Facebook ads. This way, you can narrow down your own A/B testing, or even skip certain parts of it entirely, saving you precious time and money.

Speaking of money, you might be interested in Facebook’s budget optimization.

Identify successful ads and steal from them

There’s a great saying to go along with this point: “Good writers borrow, great writers steal.” And although the authorship of these words can be a matter of dispute, their meaning is something most people can agree on.

Instead of wasting your creativity on trying to create something that already exists, you can take a successful idea, concept, or an entire ad from your competitors and build upon it, effectively combining your creativity and theirs to craft something bigger than just a sum of those parts. This is how some of the best works of art were created. Why not adopt this method for your marketing?

Keep in mind, however, that blatant plagiarism can and will hurt your reputation, and is generally not a good idea unless you are really low on budget time, or creativity.

Identify failures and learn from them

Sometimes, the best way to learn how to do something is to learn how not to do it. By searching for inactive ads and looking at ones that have been running for a short time, you’ll end up with plenty of examples of what not to show your target audience. And by analyzing them and identifying their common features, you will know what to avoid when targeting specific demographics on Facebook and the rest of Meta’s platforms.

Discover new clients

So far, we’ve been paying attention to what we can find and see on Facebook Ad Library. But what about all the things that are not there?

By analyzing the ads your competition is running, you can identify gaps in their coverage, whether by demographics, region, or platform and direct your own efforts there. If their marketing is focused on Instagram, for example, that means you can easily grab your share of impressions on Facebook, and vice versa.

The contents of the ad itself can also give you a tip, even if it’s currently active and you can not access the full statistical data. Are they trying to make their product look appealing to seniors? That means teenagers are yours to catch in your marketing nets.

Find out the best time to act

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Have you ever noticed how big, multimillion-dollars Hollywood releases are always stretched out when you put them on a calendar? That’s because cinema-goers have finite time and money to spend, and the studios are not eager to share them with each other.

You might be working on a different scale, but the general rule remains the same. If you and your competitors are selling the same kind of product, starting a sale at the same time as they are running theirs is counterproductive. Not only will you be competing for your customers’ dollars, but for ad impressions as well, further stretching your budget with less payoff than you could have gotten if you picked a different time frame to launch your own campaigns.

Do not launch sales immediately after your competitors either. The best practice would be to wait for the next common payday date in the region you are targeting and start at that moment, when your customers have already regained their buying capabilities.

Stay in touch with the trends

They might be volatile and passing faster than you can blink, but trends can nevertheless be a crucial factor in designing a Facebook ad campaign. Jumping on the right trend at the right time can make your ads go viral and attract the number of customers that would seem insane for a non-trend-based campaign. In fact, some businesses are entirely based on trends, jumping from one to another at a moment’s notice and generating heaps of dollars in the process.

By keeping a close eye on what other advertisers are doing, you can timely identify trends in their ads and adjust yours accordingly in order to not lag behind and look dated.

Summary

Whether you are just starting out in eCommerce business or looking to improve an already existing company, Facebook Ad library can be an amazing addition to your arsenal. Using it, you can spy on your competitors(without getting in legal trouble, which is always a plus), find inspiration, and determine the best time and targets for your own Facebook ad campaign.

We are hoping you found this article helpful and wish you the best of luck in your avaricious pursuits. If you would like some assistance in setting up your Facebook or Instagram ads, we’ll be happy to help you out.

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