Facebook advertising: find information about your competitor

Facebook Advertising, what you need to know

Facebook has made a number of changes with which they want to make their advertising program more transparent. The result is that campaigns by political organizations become fully transparent, including expenditure. In addition, much more is visible about the campaigns of all other advertisers. Thanks to this bonus, online marketers can retrieve valuable information about the Facebook advertising strategy or competitors.

The new information can be made visible in various ways:

Via the Facebook advertising library
Via advertiser information on Facebook pages
Via the advertisements on your Facebook timeline.
It is a good thing that more insight is made into the campaigns of political parties. This allows you to view expenditure, focus and changes of views immediately. Stricter rules also apply. For example, political parties must have their identity verified. Advertisements must also include a disclaimer with the name of the person or organization responsible for the advertisement. The question is whether these measures will prevent the spread of fake news, for example, but it is a step in the right direction.

Advertising information via the Advertising library

Via the special Ad Library (Ad Library) you can search by name, subject and organization. You get an overview of Facebook pages as a search result. You can then view detailed information per page and see which advertisements are active on Facebook via the relevant page. You do not have to have an account to consult the Ad Library.

Ad library: information about pages and active ads.
Advertising library: information about the page and the administrators.
Advertising library: Name changes of a page can also be viewed.

From every page you can see:

  • When the page is created.
  • How often the name of the page has been changed and the changes themselves.
  • Or the page has been merged with other pages.
  • From which country / countries the managers of the page come.
  • Overview active ads per country.
  • Start date of every active ad.
  • The active ad (s) themselves.

Political organizations

If it is a political organization, you can see all the advertisements again: both active and inactive advertisements. Facebook started saving political advertisements in March 2019. They indicate that they will keep this for up to 7 years.
We find this explanation on the opening page of the Ad Library:

The Library contains information about every active and inactive advertisement related to politics or topics of interest within the European Union, which has been displayed since March 2019. We keep all these advertisements in the Library for seven years.

What Facebook understands by “political” or “topics of interest” for the European Union can be found in the Help Center for advertisements:

  • Immigration
  • Political values
  • Civil and social rights
  • Security and foreign policy
  • Economy
  • Environmental policy

Facebook states in this explanation: “We expect that this list will be adjusted over time.” The list will certainly provoke discussion, but it is certainly broad.

Insight into expenditure on political organizations

To increase transparency, Facebook also shows the costs of political advertisements and how often the advertisement has been shown. In terms of targeting you get information about the set location, the age category and the gender. You can also see the complete issues of all page-related ads. This information is very interesting and provides a lot of information about the online campaign strategy of the relevant political organization.

Advertising information via Facebook pages
On each Facebook page you will find the link “Information and advertisements” in the left-hand column. Through this link you can see when the page was created and whether the page name was changed in the past. You can also view the active ads. Interesting for every online marketer, because you now immediately see if your competitor has active campaigns, in which countries they are visible and what the ads look like.

What can you do with this information? You could, for example, monitor your competition’s campaigns and periodically analyze for changes in type of advertisements and message. That gives you insight into the campaign strategy of the relevant organization. You can then make a well-considered decision as to whether you agree with this or whether you will do it differently.

Source: Frankwatching