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Using Advertising Platforms and Ad Transparency For Free Competitive Insights

Using Advertising Platforms and Ad Transparency For Free Competitive Insights

Let’s look at how Corkboard Concepts uses free tools for competitive intelligence

Two of the largest advertising platforms out there have been pushing for a heightened level of ad transparency. For consumers, this brings an added level of protection and understanding to who is targeting you and why. 

For advertisers however, this means that you’re able to more easily take a peek under the hood of competitors’ advertising strategy. 

Google Ads Verification: 

Let’s take a look at Google Ads Verification and details. Google started pushing advertising platforms a little over a year ago and is going to require all advertisers do this by end of year. Google is pushing advertisers to verify their business name, address and some items about their operation, requiring businesses to submit official documents in the process. With this information, Google is then displaying the following information to the public domain: 

  • Advertiser name change history
  • Ad creatives
  • Dates and locations ads served
  • Ads removed or accounts suspended for legal or policy reasons
  • Business contact information

Why does this information matter and how can you find it? 

To start, you simply conduct a search and locate the advertisers ad you are interested in knowing more about. 

Click the 3 dots next to the ad and you’ll get a little blurb about who the verified advertiser is. 

  • As a note, some agencies/platforms are verifying it on their behalf and not on the end advertisers, which provides another level of insight for your competitive intelligence! 

You can see all of the ads that they are running currently on Google search. It will also show you what they’re running on other Google platforms – like display advertising and video/YouTube ads!

Facebook/Meta Ad Library:

The next tool to use is from Facebook. Facebook advertising falls only behind Google’s in online market share and the two platforms make up more than half of all advertising conducted online! That being said, it likely surpasses Google in the amount of negative feedback on its advertising policies. 

Facebook regularly requires advertisers to verify who they are, either through personal identification or business verification and sometimes in a proactive manner while others are reactive (i.e. your account was suspended and you now have to verify to get it back). 

Even without this verification though, through Facebook’s commitment to ad transparency, ads are visible at all times. Originally put in place for protected/special ad categories like political, housing, employment or credit categories, this is now expanded to all advertising on any Facebook/Meta-owned platforms, which includes: 

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • WhatsApp
  • Audience Network (connected 3rd party sites and apps)

You can either begin the search by going to an advertisers Facebook page and looking for the ad transparency panel on the left hand side of their page (on desktop) or go to Facebook Ad Library

Facebook Ad Library allows you to search for any advertiser and see what ads they’re currently running. 

  • This allows you to take a look generally at competitors to measure yourself against them. 
  • This allows you to discover what the industry leader is doing so you can plan accordingly. Everyone benefits from a benchmark and if what your competitor is doing is visible – why not make that your target! 
  • This also allows you to understand what industry laggards are or are not doing as well so you can make sure you don’t fall into the same situation! This is often overlooked because everyone focuses on the industry leader but oftentimes “what not to do” is as important as “what to do”.
  • With some advertisers, it can even tell you the date in which they’ve been running a particular ad since and someone that has a lot of ads from months ago still running shows that they’re not spending a lot of time updating their creative or testing new ads. Intel on reaction times and updates is also a huge factor in a competitive strategy

Using Advertising Platforms For Competitive Research:

These tools are provided DIRECTLY from Google and Facebook – two of the largest advertising platforms out there! Some of these insights have been widely available through paid, third parties. The benefits of using Facebook and Google directly for this research is two-fold:

  1. It’s free!
  2. It’s direct from the source!

Third-party research sometimes makes assumptions and may not be entirely accurate. Well, when it’s coming directly from Google or Facebook about who is advertising on their platform – you can go ahead and assume it’s pretty close to the source and that is of course – because it is the source!  

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