When it comes to PPC marketing, aiming at competitors is nothing new. If you’re looking to generate sales and garner awareness, getting your ads seen by the audience of the competition is a great approach. If you’re in a competitive market, getting to your competitor’s fan base must’ve come to your mind at some point. Platforms like Bing and Google make it possible for us to do so directly (the reason for that will be explained below), but what about social platforms like Facebook?
Unfortunately, when it comes to Facebook Ads, there aren’t keywords on which you can bid, like in the case of search engine ads, so the process isn’t as straightforward as you’d wish as a marketer. How does it happen, then?
Well, you can’t directly target fans of a particular page. Facebook doesn’t provide a feature to do that. So, you must think of other means.
Guess what? We did the thinking part for you. Here’s how to target Facebook ads to fans of a competitor page.
Why you should target the audiences of your competitors on Facebook
In a nutshell, the audience your competitors are targeting is probably already interested in what you have to offer. After all, you offer the same products and/or services as your competitors, so targeting their fans on Facebook can be a relatively cheap way to gather targeted leads without having to go through the traditional ways of doing so. These traditional ways are lookalike audiences and interest-based audiences, both of which have their drawbacks for Facebook advertisers :
- For targeting lookalike audiences, advertisers would usually go off seed audiences that are either way too small or of low quality. They don’t have the volume of conversion data necessary for the algorithm to provide optimised results
- For targeting interests, advertisers usually make the same broad choice as everyone else when it comes to choosing the target audience
These shortcomings are where the desire to target a competitor’s audience arises.
The good news is that it’s feasible. It may not be as scalable as the two aforementioned approaches, but when it’s done right, it works.
How to target Facebook ads to fans of a competitor page
As we mentioned, you’re not able to target competitor page’s fans on Facebook directly, but you can exploit their interests as a way to reach them.
According to Facebook, “interests” are defined based on what a user explicitly likes and all things adjacent to that. So, if your competitors and their fans have a presence on Facebook, stated brand affiliation and fandom can be taken advantage of to build brand recognition, which would ultimately lead to revenue.
With all that said and done, let’s jump into dissecting how to target Facebook ads to fans of a competitor page.
Competitors’ paid audiences: where to find them on Facebook
Here’s how to find the paid audiences of your competitors on Facebook:
Having followed your competitor’s page, look at their website and interact with their content. This might lead to their ads showing up in your feed. Facebook takes notice of that kind of activity and shows you ads relevant to your field of business, even if it’s directly from your competitors.
If you ever come across paid content published by a competitor or some business in your field, go to the upper-right corner of the ad and click the three dots. Choose “Why Am I Seeing This Ad?” from the drop-down menu.
Read the provided reasons to get a better idea about the audience targeting. For instance, there may be parameters that hint at demographic targeting for customers from a certain location, of a certain age, or who speak a certain language.
You may instead notice interest-based targeting. Keep those interests in mind because you may want to add them to your paid audience (more on that later). Facebook Audience Manager can come in handy to maintain a running list of probable interests and measure the size of users they can reach.
Aside from that, you may come across certain ads that reach you due to similarities between you and the customer base that the ad is targeting. It may be clear what kind of similarities you share but look for how it can lead you to figure out lookalike audiences that you can create for your well-performing paid audiences. You’ll find details about this below.
Go through the Meta Ads Library
Don’t assume that some competitors aren’t advertising in case you’re not getting any ads from them in your feed. The Meta Ad Library can help you to conduct deeper research on any given advertiser.
- Select all ads in the ad library, and search for a specific advertiser or a specific keyword
- Select a search result to get all active, relevant ads
- In the upper-right corner, you can find a filter that can help you narrow the search
- In the Platform list, choose Facebook
- You can also select the type of media, as well as narrow the search even more through the “Impressions by Date” option
Now you have a filtered list of the advertiser’s active ads. Go through them, read the ad copy, and take a look at the creatives to get an idea about the kind of offers the audiences of your competitors gravitate towards, the things they want to achieve, and the issues they want help with.
Click on the call to action to view the landing page that’s linked with the ad. Click the “See Ad Details” button to go get further details about the ad. It will tell you if the ad has more than one version, and that gives you an idea of how the pages you’re competing against are testing paid content on their audience.
The ad may have linked elements such as lead forms. Click on “Additional Assets from This Ad” at the bottom of the page to get more details about them. You might get some useful nuggets out of them that hint at what kind of content your competitors are creating in terms of ad audience segments.
With all of that research said and done, we can now take the data we gathered and use it. Below are five methods for building audiences using the data we gathered on the fans of a competitor’s page.
Adding potential competitors’ fans to your saved audiences
To do this, access the ad set of your campaign and look for the detailed targeting section down below. There, you can enter the interests that you gathered (see the “Reviewing ads that pop up in your profile’s feed” section above) to narrow down the audience of your ad.
For example, if the fans of your competitors are based in the UK and are interested in cosmetics, this is what you’ll see:
When you start adding interests to the audiences you’ve created, watch out for the estimated size. A very large audience can get efficient delivery, but it can also be too broad. Consider testing several ad groups with distinct audience targeting against one another. It may give you an idea about the best size and settings for your goal.
Uncheck “Advanced Detailed Targeting” if you want the most accurate estimation of audience size. That feature may provide more efficient ad delivery, but it also significantly broadens your targeting. Testing ad groups against each other should not suffer from excessive overlapping, and unchecking that feature spares you from that.
To save that audience for later use, simply click on “Save audience” as shown below:
Voila! Now you have several targeted saved audiences that you can test to see what works!
Test competition-inspired copy and creatives
Another way of taking advantage of the data you gathered is by testing creatives and copy that your competitors are using (see the “Go through the Meta Ads Library” section above). After all, if they’re generating sales, it means that what they’re doing in terms of copywriting and creative work is effective. And if something works, it would be foolish not to use it!
Using lookalike audiences
When conversions and leads start coming through from your competitor-inspired audiences (see the “Adding potential competitors’ fans to the saved audiences” section above), start thinking about similar audiences to target. Facebook Ads’ lookalike targeting can come up with great results, provided you have value-based sources such as pixels or product catalogues.
Aside from that, Facebook page activity and other Meta sources can be used for seeding your audience. A small start of 1% lookalike is good. If you get promising results and the first lookalike audience reaches its full potential, you can expand to 2% or more.
Using Facebook activity for remarketing
When traffic and engagement start coming through, their usage for building remarketing audiences can be the next logical step. For instance, those creating an ad funnel can take the top-of-funnel campaign and focus it on bringing in in-app engagement. Having done that, create a new custom audience to leverage those new engagements to remarket to the audiences of the pages you’re competing against.
After that, choose the type of engagement to target. You can choose users that interacted with your ads or posts during a specific time interval, for example. The default is retargeting any user with engagements in the last 365 days. If you’re looking for people who showed recent interest, however, you’ll want to make that time frame significantly smaller.
Another example is targeting users that watched entire videos or even parts of them. You must use a well-designed funnel to guide your competitors’ audiences. Retargeting video viewers is a good way to do so, as it identifies interested prospects and it can lead them to a conversion.
You may come across the perfect demographic for your ad by studying web analytics and sales data (see the “Go through the Meta Ads Library” section above). But it’s worth taking a look at your competitors if they’re using distinctly different demographics, as they might be worth testing on.
At the ad set level, entering demographic targeting variables such as location, gender, and age is quite easy. Limiting settings to demographics only is also feasible for broad targeting, and from there, you rely on Meta to get your ads in front of the audience that proves to be most viable. But if you’re looking to have more control, you can combine page targeting or interests with demographics.
Feeling lost? We’re here to help!
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