What is Facebook Ad Library?
Ad Library came about in 2019, after controversies back in 2016 around election advertising. Its main purpose is to build transparency for Facebook users and non-users alike. Facebook Ad Library allows access to data on all activity throughout its platforms, including Instagram. Their data goes back seven years.
For social media marketers, given Facebook’s dominance, checking out this huge data resource is a must. Facebook Ad Library allows you to see every relevant ad made and how it is succeeding to date. This, then, is essential market intel in a highly competitive channel.
How to Use Facebook Ad Library For Advertising on Facebook
Facebook Ad Library allows advertisers to search for ads currently running across Facebook apps and services, including Instagram. You can choose to search in all countries or in a specific country which could be your target market specifically where you want to reach customers, e.g. UK or US..
Next, you be prompted to select the ‘Ad Category’ I usually keep this on the ‘all ads’ drop-down option, here:
You can see that searches on the term peaks in May all the way to October, when it drops again. This is a great indication that people will be looking to buy a dress more in warmer months in the U.K., for example, rather than in winter, when it’s cold and women don’t want to go out. This highlights the importance of also selecting for geographical targeting, but more on that later.
2. Think Outside The Dress with ‘Related Topics’
Tracking Your Market and Competitors
If you want to check what your competition is doing in your niche, you can then search for relevant ads by entering keyword related to your niche. It’s worth keeping an eye on both the bigger players over time here, to see what is working for them and which smaller suppliers come and go for building your own market intel. You can even search by the advertiser name e.g. Nike, Fashion Nova, Fenty Beauty, etc.. which is a great way to see what type of ads your main competitors are running. When getting started, when you have no data to work from to know what works, putting the time in here, looking at your market is time well spent.
Making this intel gathering time part of your marketing planning routine gives you great insights on what your competitors are doing over time, what type of content and media they are using to promote their products or brand, and whether they are advertising on all Facebook platforms or just a preferred one e.g. Instagram. If there is a gap in their marketing, this offers opportunities for you to find new customers.
Of course, what might be working for them may not be affordable or appropriate for you right now, when looking at how their Facebook advertising campaigns link into other advertising channels, but , having a sense of future direction is valuable in its own right. Perhaps more importantly for here and now, is that you can use your market intel analysis for brainstorming, in terms of what type of ads show up, what kinds of images, videos, descriptions and combinations they are using. Looking at patterns and trends over time helps you stay ahead with your calls to action and conversions.
You are also able to see when each ad has started running. By browsing towards the bottom, you can find the most successful ads, as we’d assume from a longer time line for a campaign, that they will likely be performing better if they’re still running. Keeping track here helps you stay on trend.
Tracking what is happening with your own ads in terms of your reach and spending allows you to tweak as you go, concentrating on where your budget investment is paying off. Once your campaigns are running, such insights are invaluable for building out your marketing investment where you are getting desired results.
It is not only your competition, or your own ads that you can track either. If your niche has elements of politics to it, for instance if your market is under discussion at the U.S. House of Representatives, in the Senate, or even if the President is engaging with your niche somehow, this too can be tracked. This could be useful in terms of remaining relevant, sparking topical discussions on your own page and also building your own reputation.
Facebook’s guidance for advertisers says that “Anyone can explore the ad library, with or without a Facebook account.” This means that you can harvest a lot of market intel, without even having put your company’s offering out there, risking early mistakes. The knowledge you can gain from this pre-advertising research means that when you do set up your company’s page, and plan to launch your first Facebook marketing campaign, you are on a stronger footing and will see results happen faster.
However, there are some limits to advertising freedom, depending upon your niche. What are termed as ‘reporting ads’ (i.e. political, social or controversial content) and viewing adult content “require that you have an account and are logged in.”
How Long Before Exposure?
Your ads will appear immediately in the streams of your audience, but only appears in the ad library within 24 hours from your first ‘impression’ showing up in someone’s Facebook stream. If you want to switch things up to stay ahead of competitors, any changes or editing of your ads made will also have a potential 24 hour time lag for appearing in the Facebook ad library.
So there we are. AdsRunner strongly recommends using Facebook Ad Library as a resource for brainstorming ideas around your business, campaign construction planning and staying ahead of your competition.
The point is, as we can see from this overview on Facebook Ad Library, is not to copy your competition, but to understand what may be working for them that could be applied to your campaigns, or what might not, when either just getting to understand how social media marketing works, or when building out your marketing campaign cost effectively, without compromising on impact….