What is the Facebook Ad Library and 15 Ways How to Use it for Facebook Marketing

What is the Facebook Ad Library and 13 Ways How to Use it for Facebook Marketing

If you have been on the popular social media platform as an advertising entity for any length of time, you have likely heard of the existence of a massive library of the ads currently being run across the different Meta platforms and offerings. The library is precisely what it seems to be: a collection of all of the ads being run on Meta platforms that are free and available to the public with an easy search function. This is what is known as the Facebook Ad Library.

Considered one of the transparency tools being offered by Facebook, the ad library allows everyone, from political advertisers to small mom-and-pops, to search and sort through the many advertisements currently being run on Meta sites and apps. Far from simply acting as a database, however, the ad library can be used as a vast wealth of knowledge and a great source of inspiration for your own Facebook marketing strategies

How to Access the Facebook Ad Library

How to Access the Facebook Ad Library

The Facebook ads library is actually easy to access. To reach the library, you must simply type in facebook.com/ads/library, and you will be directed to the ads library search page. This is one of the best transparency tools offered by the Meta parent company, as it allows you to view the ads currently being displayed across the full list of platforms, and allows a backlog of political advertisers and other socially-minded advertisements to be searched and reviewed on the site. 

Use Filters to Search for Specific Media Types

Use Filters to Search for Specific Media Types

The Facebook ads library is structured much in the same way as a standard search engine; you can filter your searches to only contain the information you are seeking. Use filters to avoid looking at identical content or avoid political content that is not relevant to your brand, and to streamline the process of scouring the library for marketing materials that can inform and improve your Meta advertisement strategies.  

13 Ways to Use the Facebook Ad Library for Your Own Marketing

While Facebook Ad Library may seem simple and straightforward enough, there are numerous different ways to use the ad library to improve your own ads’ reach, tone, and efficacy. You can pick and choose from this list in order to improve your ads, or you can implement all 15 strategies. 

1. Choose A Relevant Category

While there is something to be said for looking at everything available in the Facebook ad library, choosing a relevant category through a keyword search can help more closely attune your search to your needs to develop the best possible strategy. Whether you are interested in creating ads that target and tackle social issues or you are focused entirely on finding the color scheme most likely to attract people to your ads, choosing the ad category that is most closely linked to your own brand or company will yield the best results. Choosing a specific period of time can also be helpful; if midterm elections are afoot, for instance, finding ads that match your niche may be more difficult. By choosing the proper category and time frame, you are far more likely to find a treasure trove of information about how to construct the most effective ad campaigns. 

2. Find Competitor Ads 

Find Competitor Ads

Facebook’s ad library can be used to locate your direct competitor’s ads in order to determine what they are doing that you aren’t, or what they might be doing that is either overpowering or amplifying your marketing efforts. Even if you are not sure exactly what you are looking for when you are seeking out your competitors’ ads, having a general idea of what you are up against can help you more accurately and clearly formulate your own advertising strategy and can help you fine tune your existing processes. Competitor ads can also help you learn more about what does and does not work in your own niche.

Further Reading: Facebook Ads Strategy: 15 Powerful & Effective Strategies for 2024

3. Gain Inspiration from Competitors and Other Industries

Mining for information is valuable and is one of the primary uses of Facebook’s ad library feature, but it can also be used as a source of inspiration. By browsing the ads that are currently being run (and have been run) on Facebook, you can spark some of your own creativity. Although you should never blatantly copy the work of someone else, you can glean plenty of inspiration from existing ads and develop some new ideas for your own brand or business. From seeking something that creates an “aha” moment, to seeing a new take on an old idea, the Facebook ad library can be an important tool in the effort to create high-quality, compelling marketing content. 

Browsing Facebook advertisements can help you keep an eye on advertising trends because you can look into the different techniques and tries being utilized by people across all different types of niches and markets, not just your own. Advertising trends can be easily discernible, such as using a particular dialect or series of phrases, but they can also be easier to miss without some careful observation and attention, such as obscure references to films from the past. Sort through different Facebook ads to identify the latest trends and practices in advertising, in order to make sure you are staying relevant and top of mind in marketing practices. 

Further Reading: 4 Steps for How to Measure Facebook Ads Metrics Effectiveness

5. Pay Attention to Campaign Messages

Pay Attention to Campaign Messages

Campaign messages are also important to evaluate because different brands focus on different aspects of meeting the same need. Someone who is selling toothpaste, for instance, might focus primarily on the health benefits of their brand of toothpaste, while someone else might focus on the aesthetic value of the right toothpaste. Someone selling sneakers may focus on comfort, while someone else may focus on style, and still another company may place its emphasis on sustainability. Looking at the different messages being offered by other marketing campaigns can help you fine-tune your message, and determine where you can provide value where others haven’t–or where others have perhaps done so inadequately. 

6. See Which Ad Formats Have Longevity

Identifying the different messages in ads can help determine how closely you should attend to social issues, but paying close attention to the ads in the Facebook ads library can help you identify which ads continue to pop up time and time again, in order to notice which ads stand the test of time and which go the way of barely-there trends. Different ad formats will target different target audiences, so not all longevity-based ads will be for everyone. Instead of focusing on the audience, pay close attention to search engine results, clever wording or phrasing, and timelessness. If an ad closely references a word or phrase that has long been abandoned, it does not have longevity and maybe a campaign is better off avoided. 

Further Reading: 9 Ways to Enhance Your Facebook Ads ROI

7. Spot The Difference With A/B Testing

A/B testing tests out different variations on the same theme across social networks. A/B testing is a powerful tool because it allows you to compare and contrast two specific ads or campaigns, in order to discover which of the ads works best, and which has components that should be tucked away for future images, video ads, and other marketing materials. You can use A/B testing in a variety of ways, among them testing the revenue that an ad brought in, the number of engagements that a campaign brought in, or something else entirely. A/B testing allows you to dig deep into different approaches to marketing and come away with a clear winner. Looking at the different Facebook Ad variations and how your competitors are doing A/B testing should give you plenty of inspiration for your own future A/B testing.

8. Check Out Ad Copy and Tone

Check Out Ad Copy and Tone

Different approaches to advertisements will resonate with different audience networks. Political advertisers, for instance, frequently use passive voice to avert blame and responsibility. Sports advertisers often focus more on showing the strength and stamina of people on their social media platforms and will take a more inspirational tilt across their social media platforms. Scour the Facebook ads library for different ad copy (phrasing and general content) and tone to find the best copy and tone for your specific niche and brand. People issue ads to connect with the most substantial audience possible in any given time period, and being able to recognize the preferred ad copy and tone in successful marketing materials can help you home your own campaigns. 

9. Deconstruct Funnels

Ad funnels are among the most valuable tools you have in your arsenal. An ad funnel allows you to funnel potential customers and followers from one basic step to another until you have someone who is actively engaged with your brand, or purchasing from your inventory. Deconstructing the different steps being utilized in funnels in your niche can help inform your own funnel strategy and point to any areas in which you are lacking. Finding exact matches to your own industry or niche may not be possible, but try to look into funnels that most closely align with your goals, brand message, and offerings. Having access to ads through the Facebook ads marketplace is truly a powerful aid in developing successful and inventive new advertising campaigns.

10. Look for Seasonal Promotions

Whether it is considered a seasonal period of time or not, look at the advertising content provided for seasonal promotions. Looking at these promotional materials can help you create your own seasonal promotions, certainly, but can also help you come up with photographic content and video content to add to your campaigns year-round. The language utilized in these promotions is often designed to instill a sense of excitement and urgency–two things that are essential for content ads to be truly effective. Poring over the advertising content companies have created for seasonal offers can help you craft your own, if not identical content, then similarly urgent ads.

Further Reading: 7 Brilliant Ideas to Include in Your Holiday Social Media Posts

11. Discover Effective Media Types

Discover Effective Media Types

Different media types work better with different advertising platforms, and inauthentic content in one media type may not look quite as disingenuine in another format. Evaluate the different media types being displayed in the content provided on Meta advertising platforms and try to develop a basic framework of where and when certain formats should be used. Video content may perform better with certain demographics, while written personal review campaigns may be far better on certain platforms. Systematically comb through content ads on a variety of Meta sites, including Facebook, and evaluate the advertising platforms that will best accommodate your existing and upcoming campaigns.

12. Collect Ad Information

Collect Ad Information

Finally, the searchable transparency library is useful for simply collecting information. From political content to direct advertisements for a specific product, Facebook advertisements can provide a host of information about your specific niche that can massively and positively inform your advertising strategies across all Meta platforms. Release timing, wording, tone, video duration, ad run duration, and more can be collected via the Facebook ads library, and you should take advantage of these opportunities whenever possible to make sure you have the most information possible before completing your next advertising campaign. 

Further Reading: The Top 16 Facebook Ads Tools You Didn’t Even Know Existed

13. Get Facebook Ad Targeting Insights With “Why Am I Seeing This Ad?”

Competitive analysis may not be complete without the use of ad targeting insights. This feature allows you to evaluate why an advertisement is being delivered to a specific audience, including the specific campaign type and your own behaviors online. Having access to ad targeting insights can help you take a look at your own advertising materials, and how those might (or might not) align with your preferred audience in order to continue improving reach and performance. Note that unfortunately this is not a feature of the Facebook Ad Library directly but you have the option to see this when you see an ad in your own Facebook feed and select the “Why am I seeing this ad?” as the example illustrates below:

why am i seeing this ad
facebook ad targeting insights

Conclusion

While there are plenty of must-have graphics & design tools to make sure that your marketing materials “pop,” there is far more to marketing than your campaign type and flashy graphics. Image ads, video ads, and more can all benefit from the insights gleaned from using the ad library. Plenty of marketing apps and companies offer a 15-day trial or a 30-day trial to improve the reach and efficacy of your marketing efforts, but the Facebook ads library offers a free and endlessly useful blueprint for successfully creating ads on Facebook that stand the test of time and produce tangible results.

Hero Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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