Research Competition Using the Facebook Ads Library

If the need should arise, the Facebook Ads Library can be a marketer’s best friend. The FB Ad Library is a tool that Facebook made for the sake of transparency. If you dive into this library, you will find every advertisement placed on Facebook within the past seven years. In short, this has mostly allowed journalists and government agencies the ability to research previously completed ad campaigns. You can see both active ads and inactive ads. If you are in the market to create a Facebook ad, the library can provide useful research and inspiration. You can find the most successful ad campaigns of the past within this library. With the right research, you can begin to learn from their previous successes and create your own marketing strategy. In this article, we will explain Facebook Ads and how you can use the Facebook Ads Library.

searching facebook

What is the Facebook Ads Library?

There is no doubt that the Facebook Ads Library (aka the Meta Ads Library) can help your marketing campaign. With that said, you may benefit further from knowing the history of the Facebook ad research tool.Facebook created the FB Ad Library in 2019 as a response to the controversy surrounding the 2016 United States presidential election. Again, Facebook did so in an act of full transparency, allowing anyone access to previously undisclosed information. You do not even need a Facebook account or Facebook page to use the library. The tool is available to absolutely everyone. The Facebook Ads Library shows all ads running on the platform, so you can see ads that target audiences similar to your own.

Instagram Ads

Instagram advertisements are also available on the platform. This is a given considering that Facebook acquired Instagram back in 2012. The Facebook Ads Library has a deep history in the political sphere, but it provides invaluable information for marketers. You can use the tool to gain the upper hand on your competition by seeing competitor ads. This means studying their previous ad campaigns, gaining further insight for your own. If you hope to stay ahead in the marketing world, this research tool will make sure you do so.

How Can I Successfully Use the Facebook Ads Library?

Facebook’s insistence on transparency carries over to their accessible search functions. The company provides an in-depth guide on how to make searches with the Facebook Ads Library. Even so, we’ve got a few tips for ensuring you’re using Facebook’s ad search as best as possible.

1. Select Your Country

In truth, the first step of your Facebook ad search will be navigating to the Facebook Ads Library. You can do this by typing into the address bar of your favorite internet browser. Another option for access to the tool is to click on the link that is already available within this article.

Once you have chosen one of these two options, you will find yourself with access to the FB Ad Library. The first thing to do is to ensure that the correct country you wish to search is selected. Your current country will be present to the left of “Ad Category” button. If you are currently using a VPN or a similar service, you may find that the wrong country is listed. It is important that you select the country you do business in. If you do not do so, some of the marketing information provided may not apply to you.

2. Identify Your Ad Category

The Facebook Ads Library infrastructure places the “Ad Category” button directly to the right of your country. Your next step for completing successful Facebook ad research is to select your advertising category.

There are only a few available categories on the FB Ad Library, but they are as follows:

  • Social Issues, Elections, or Politics
  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Credit

These categories act as filters of sort, so you can select as many or as few as you want. It is only required that you select at least one to complete your search. The categories are not entirely transparent in what they include, so it could be best to select all non-political categories. This is the best way to find purely commercial ads that would relate to your marketing campaign.

facebook ads library options

3. Search the Facebook Ads Library

Now that you have selected a category (or all of them), you can proceed with your search. The ideal search method is to type the name of a brand or company into the search bar. Let us imagine that you want to run a competing advertising campaign against Nike. That may be difficult to accomplish, but you could easily get Nike’s advertising information from the Facebook Ads Library. Following your search for Nike, you will get a list of all relevant Nike advertisements. As a reminder, this search includes all current and previous ads from the last 7 years.

4. Receive Details

Now that your search is complete, you will be able to gain the information you desired. Directly above an advertisement, a few things will be present:

  1. The start date for the ad
  2. Which platforms the ad is present on
  3. Whether or not the ad is active
  4. The ID for the ad

In order to gain further information on a specific advertisement, you can select “see ad details.” This option is available directly below the advertisement. If the advertisement has multiple versions of it running concurrently, you will be able to view them here.

Activity and Platforms

It is important for you to understand the information that the Facebook Ads Library is presenting to you. If the advertisement you want to see is active, it will have a green checkmark in the top left corner. In the top right, it will provide the platforms for the advertisement, which could include:

  1. Facebook
  2. Facebook Messenger
  3. Instagram
  4. Audience Network

Knowing all of the details on a competing advertisement can inform how you will create your own ads.

ad files

Filtering Your Facebook Ads Library Searches

While the ad categories act as filters in their own right, you can filter your searches even further. The Facebook Ads Library provides a multitude of options to ensure that you find the ad you are looking for.

1. Keyword

Your first filter option within the FB Ad Library is to search with a keyword. If you do not know exactly what company you are looking for, you can search by product type. This means that if you want to see successful advertisements for “running shoes,” you can. This way, you will be able to view different strategies relating to similar products. If you successfully utilize this feature, you could mix and match what you think relates to your ad campaign.

2. Language

The ability to understand different markets is incredibly important to advertising campaigns. It should go without saying that not all areas of the world use the same language. If you want to appeal to a section of Japan, you could benefit from viewing Japanese advertisements. This filter on the Facebook Ads Library will be able to let you get outside of your comfort zone. As a result, you will eventually grow your brand to new heights.

3. Platform

You are already aware of the platforms that are supported by the Facebook Ads Library. As a reminder, they appear in the top right of an advertisement that you have searched for. If you only want to see Facebook ads, instead of Instagram, Facebook Messenger, or Audience Network ads, you can. The research tool lets you filter between these ads with ease. In order to create a successful marketing campaign on a single platform, you need to understand what works on it. Instagram marketing is different from Facebook marketing, and this allows you to see exactly how it is. The same applies for the other platforms available on the FB Ads Library. Take advantage of this filter and familiarize yourself with all the platforms available to you.

4. Media Type

Similar to platforms, you can also filter by media types. Certain media types are more likely to appear on certain platforms, such as Instagram and photos. This filter allows you to search by:

  • Image
  • Video
  • No Image or Video

If you wish to do so, you can still search by all media types at once. This is another useful tool in understanding successful ad campaigns. People respond to images differently than they respond to text or video. The Facebook Ads Library will let you dive deeper into understanding why this is the case.

5. Impressions By Date

You want to see the best ad campaigns, and this is how you can accomplish this. The FB Ads Library lets you get quite in-depth with specific dates. You can select a range of dates, which will provide you info on impressions during that range. If the dates selected provide a high level of engagement, it could provide quality info on when to advertise. A sale on swimsuits will be much more likely to succeed in the spring/summer than the winter/fall. In truth, this may be one of the more useful filters on the research tool.

facebook ad library

Understanding the Facebook Ads Library

A social media marketing campaign is hard to successfully create. There is absolutely no doubt in that, but the Facebook Ads Library can make your life easier. The most important part of utilizing all of the research tools Facebook provides is understanding them. If you understand exactly how the information provided relates to your campaign, your path will become clear. With successful market research, you will find yourself at the head of a successful marketing campaign.


  • What is the Facebook Ads Library?
  • Do I have to pay for Facebook Ads?
  • Where can I find all Facebook Ads?
  • How do I find my Facebook Ads?
  • Is it worth marketing on Facebook?

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