How To Spy On Your Competitor’s Facebook Ad Targeting

How To Spy On Your Competitor's Facebook Ad Targeting

I know ad targeting is all about knowing your audience. But even when you know them pretty well, sometimes you want to explore those who are right next to the ones you mostly target. At other times, you might just want to try something a little different. This is why I started paying attention to how I am targeted on Facebook.

Whenever I see an ad that:

  • Has a product or offer that interests me
  • Has an offer I think would also be interesting to my audience

This is what I do. Click the arrow on the top right corner of the ad. Click on Why Am I Seeing This Ad?

Why am I seeing this ad?

Facebook will tell you why. Sometimes the information is clearer than others. Like in this ad, I have a pretty good idea of their targeting.

FB Targeting

Some ads, you will see a message like this. My guess is, they are targeting Lookalikes.

FB Ad Lookalike Target

For lookalikes, I don’t normally take note because there is no way for me to replicate lookalikes based on their customers. But I will note the combination of those with more specific targeting. I write it in my Evernote and when I’m ready to run more ads, I’ll take a glance at them.

Tip: Use Evernote’s screenshot tool to save the ad itself and targeting information. This gives you a much better idea how the ad connects to the targeting. It also helps you build a swipe file of FB ads.

I know some will be saying. You aren’t your target audience. That is true. Chances are, if you are a guy selling women’s wear, you won’t see many of your competitors’ ads. But for other scenarios, perhaps there’s a way to “force” ads to show. Here’s what I am thinking. You see this link?

FB Ad Preferences

When you click that, Facebook gives you an explanation how and why you are targeted.


If you scroll down the Interests lists, you will see why it thinks you are interested in those topics. Sometimes it is based on apps you use, sometimes it’s based on ads and links you have clicked. So clicking links, using apps, and like Pages that your target audience would like should trigger your competitor’s ads which would allow you to see what they are doing.

What do you think?

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