How to target your competitors’ audiences with Facebook Ads

Woman sitting at desk using her laptop to target her competitors’ audiences with Facebook Ads.

 

Facebook ads are a powerful way of reaching new customers and can drive real results for your business. 

 

>> READ: 7 tips for successful Facebook Ads campaigns 

 

Knowing how to target the right audience is key for your ads’ performance, and looking at who your competitors may be targeting is one way of finding that audience.

 

So, how do you reach your competitors’ customers? And how, exactly, do you go about finding out who your competitors are targeting with their ads? 

 

Here are two easy ways to target your competitors’ audiences with Facebook ads:

 

 

1. Create an ad audience targeting Facebook users who have an interest in your competitors’ pages.

 

The simplest way to get your ads to show to competitor audiences is to target Facebook users who have an interest in your competitors’ pages. Here’s how:

 

Add Competitors to Saved Audiences

Example of how to use Detailed Targeting on Facebook Ads Manager. Type your competitors into the Interests bar and you can see if their audience is the right fit for your brand to target.

You’ll find this targeting option in the ad set level of your Facebook Ads Manager, in the Detailed Targeting section.

 

Click the Edit button and type any competitor into the search bar. You’ll want to stick with search results that are categorized as Interests. If you hover over the potential match you can see if the targeting is a good fit. 

 

Pro tip: watch the estimated size of your audience, as audiences that are really large may be too broad, wasting your precious ad dollars. To find the sweet spot in your audience size, you may want to try testing a few different ad groups with different audiences to find what works best for your needs. 

 

 

Target People Interested In Your Competitors’ Top Influencers

Example of how to target your competitor's audience on Facebook Ads Manager by using the name of influencers in the Interests bar

Another way to target those interested in your competitors’ company is to create an ad audience interested in your competitors’ top influencers. Use the same steps noted above to build your audience, but instead type in the influencer’s name into the detailed targeting search bar.

 

It’s worth noting that micro-influencers likely won’t show in detailed targeting.

 

Pro tip: one way to further define your audience is to combine both influencer and brand interest targeting. This can decrease the size of your audience and help your ad dollars go further. It’s also a great way to see what sort of overlap there is between your competitors’ brand and certain influencers.

 

To do this, after you’ve entered the brand interest under detailed targeting, click “Define further” and type in the influencer’s name.

Combine influencer and brand interest targeting together to decrease the audience size you are targeting and increase the effectiveness of your ads. To do this, after you’ve entered the brand interest under detailed targeting, click “Define further” and type in the influencer’s name.

 

2. Create an ad audience targeting the same interest groups as your competitors’ are in their ads

 

Before you create your custom audience, you need to first determine who your competitors are targeting with their ads. You can do that using free Facebook tools.

 

Explore the Meta Ads Library

One way is using the Meta Ads Library – a place where you can search for ads that are currently running across all Meta platforms.

 

To search for your competitor, choose your location and ad category from the drop down, then you can type in your competitors’ name to find their current ads.

 

Search for your competitor's ads that they are currently running through Meta Ads Library

 

If the brand runs a lot of ads, or has a lot of products that don’t compete with your business, you can further refine the ads you see by using the keyword search bar.

 

To define your search for your competitor's ads that they are currently running through Meta Ads Library, you can refine the results you see further by using the keyword search bar in the top right hand corner.

 

Pro tip: you can also search the full Ads Library by keyword to see all ads currently running with that keyword. This is a great way to find potential new competitors.

When searching on Meta Ads Library, you can click on “See Ad Details” to see the different versions of the ad your competitor is running to understand how they are testing ad versions.

 

Once you’ve found ads, it’s time to analyze.

Read the ad copy and take a look at the graphics or video to try and determine who your competitor might be targeting. Pay special attention to the types of people featured in ads to determine age targeting, or keywords that may give you an indication of an interest the competitor is targeting.

 

If you click on “See Ad Details” you can look at the different versions of the ad your competitor is running to understand how they are testing ad versions.

 

 

 

 

Review Ads in Your Personal Feed

If you get served an ad from your competitor, you can learn even more about their targeting. On the ad, tap the three dots in the upper right corner, Then tap “Why am I seeing this ad?”

 

You’ll then see a number of targeting options that a particular advertiser is using. It can include location, age, gender and interests. If the advertiser has selected more than 2 interests for targeting, you can click through to see a list of all of them.

 

Make note of these demographics and interests so you can create ads targeting the same or similar groups.

 

If you see a competitor's ad while scrolling your personal Facebook feed, you can click "why am I seeing this?" to view the specific targeting that is being used. This will show you the location, age, gender and interests that your competitor uses for their ads.

 

 

Repurpose Competitor Interest & Demographic Targeting

Taking what you’ve learned from your deep dive into the Ads Library and any ads you were served personally on your Facebook feed, you can use the same steps noted above to target people with the same interests your competitors are using.

 

You can use multiple interests in one ad set, but be careful of making your audience too big. You can also use the “Define Further” button to narrow the audience more, if you’d like to target people with intersecting interests.

 

Pro tip: during your research phase, did you notice your competitors were targeting a different demographic or location than you typically do? It might be worth testing to see if those factors are better. To edit Location, age or gender, just hover over those sections under Audience and click “edit”.

 

Use the information you’ve gathered from researching your competitor’s ads and apply it to your own ads to target your competitor’s audience. You can increase and decrease your audience size by inputting multiple interests and using the Define Further function. Test out different demographic or location targeting that your competitors use on Facebook Ads. To edit location, age or gender, hover over those sections under Audience and click “edit”.

 

If your competitors know their customer base well and you can get in front of this audience- you’ll be creating a great opportunity for yourself to expand your customer base, increase your sales and reach more of your ideal customers.

 

 

Social media ads are our jam – and our bread and butter! If your digital marketing efforts haven’t been paying off lately, whether you’re advertising on Facebook, Google or Tiktok, contact us! We recently improved a client’s ROAS on Google Ads by 43% in the first month of taking over from another agency.

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