Facebook has really been shaking things up lately in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Among their multiple efforts to implement face-saving initiatives and offer more transparency on the platform is the launch of their Info and Ads tool. Appearing as a new tab on a businesses’ profile page, the Info and Ads feature allows anyone on the platform to access the promotions being run by a given brand. This level of disclosure is unprecedented in the history of Facebook’s ad offerings, as this information had previously been guarded with Special-Ops levels of secrecy, and clearance granted only to the ad makers themselves. Now, it’s fair game to anyone with a passing or–more likely the case–vested interest.
If you aren’t paying attention, it would be easy to miss but once you know where to look all it takes is a quick visit to any brand’s profile page to tap into their ad strategy.
As a brand or an agency, this feature can present itself as a double-edged sword: the upside being that you can now gain insight into your industry’s ad landscape, and the downside being that competitors (and anyone else, for that matter) can do the exact same to you.
This revealing update might’ve caused some initial panic, but marketers, fear not–this is actually a GOOD THING with a handful of benefits that you can use to your advantage. Let’s take a look!
Legitimize Your Brand’s Trustworthiness with Audiences
As we mentioned, it’s not just competitors who can access your ads and dark posts; it’s literally anyone with a Facebook account, and who’s on your page the most? Your audience. More likely than not, your audience is visiting your profile for basic business information or great content updates, rather than doing some adhoc ad reconnaissance. However, the option is still there and you can’t rule out the possibility that they might just mosey their way over to the Info and Ads section–especially if they’re looking to validate the legitimacy of your brand amongst the many scams plaguing the digital space.
Knowing that your most valued audience–customers and prospective buyers–can see your backend ads as easily as they can your front end organic posts presents an opportunity and a motivator–to hold your brand to a higher content and strategy standard.
This is an easy way to showcase your brand as authentic, well-founded and consistent across all touchpoints.
No longer can brands or businesses pull a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde dynamic between their ads and their organic efforts. They must position themselves–their messaging, their aesthetic, their offerings–as a cohesive entity across both, or risk turning away potential customers. As more consumers learn about this new feature, we’re certain that they will come to rely on it as a way to screen businesses online, so as long as you play by the rules you can actually make the Info and Ads tool work in your favor.
Get Inspired by Your Industry’s Ad Creative
Pinterest is undoubtedly one of the best platforms for creative inspiration and we’re quick to admit that many of our best ads and designs were born out of a good pinning session. That being said, as much as it helps with aesthetic brainstorming it doesn’t really fulfill us in terms of content strategy. That’s why we’re so excited about the new Info and Ads feature. It’s a whole new world of social ads inspiration at your fingertips that we’ve never been able to access before. Until now, you never knew what the rest of your industry’s social ads looked like and how you stacked up–were your ads the same as everyone else’s? Were they totally missing the mark? Could you be doing something better? Different? While the Info and Ads tab doesn’t allow you to see how they’re doing with actual performance metrics, it still allows you to see what they’re doing, and that’s a pretty big win in our books.
By routinely checking on the ads being run by other players in your space, you’ll be fueled with abounding inspiration to create, test, improve, and innovate your ad content. See an ad that you think might work for your brand? Test it out! Of course, goes without saying that you should make it your own by applying the concept in a true-to-brand format, but beyond that there is no shame in trying out an idea you saw elsewhere.
Testing out new ideas and strategies is the only way to grow, improve your strategy and get the results that you want.
Gain Insight into Your Competitor’s Strategy
We figured we’d save the best for last: the fact that being able to view all of your competitor’s active ad campaigns adds a whole new layer to your competitive analysis. You’re now able to peek behind the curtain and see every outward facing aspect of their Facebook ad strategy. Sure, they can also see your creative campaigns, but they won’t be able to see much more than that. Any information about how the ads are performing is still private, which means that when you’re looking for insights from the competition’s ads you’ll have to learn how to read between the lines. There are a lot of valuable gems hidden within those ads, even without access to metrics, that will help you evaluate your own unique value proposition. A few of the takeaways you’ll find include:
Audience Targeting: You can’t see exactly who your competition is targeting, but with the context of their target audiences you should be able to infer who they are speaking to based on the messaging in their ads. Are they targeting cold traffic? Warm traffic? Are they looking to drive sales or build brand awareness? If you read carefully, it’s easy to extract this information from their ads and consider these insights when formulating your own targeting strategy. While most of the targeting insights will be informed inferences, Facebook does allow you to see what specific country the ad is targeted at, which can definitely prove advantageous.
Budget & Product Prioritization: Evaluating what’s important to a brand is as simple as knowing what they’re allocating budget to, and Info and Ads gives us access to that information. Are they putting money into campaigns that promote recruitment efforts, or are they running lead gen initiatives to encourage new business in a certain area? Once you pinpoint this, you can compare to your own brands priorities. Additionally, you can determine what products and services are important to them at any given time. Did they launch a new product line or are they running a big sale?
Is there anything that they’re doing that you should be trying also–for instance, if you see a competing brand is pushing a skincare kit for Mother’s Day and you aren’t, it might be time to plan a counter attack.
Active Ads: You won’t be able to see paused or past ads, but you’ll have access to every ad that is currently active and there is plenty of value in that. Knowing how many ads the competition is running should help you get a feel for what the industry standard is, how you stack up, and what you should do to pivot accordingly. (If you really want to do your due diligence, you can take note of existing ads and check back regularly to see if any of them are no longer available in Info and Ads. If you determine a pattern, you might be able to pull insights from ads that continue to get turned off.)
A-B Testing: Just as important as ad quantity is ad variation. You can see the different messaging and creative that your competition is testing out with their audiences and evaluate where you might want to incorporate some of the same or different versions into your own strategy.
What products they’re promoting – By taking a look at your competitor’s treasure trove of ads you can see exactly which products they’re advertising. Are they seasonal? Maybe new entirely? Find out what they’re running, and in which regions, so you can develop a counter-attack.
The Impact on Your Ad Data
While this isn’t actually a benefit per se, it’s something worth mentioning as many marketers have expressed concern. When it comes to reporting on your ad performance, the numbers are what help you determine what is working, what isn’t, and where you need to pivot. With this new, unfettered access to your brand ads, it’s reasonable to question how your metrics will be affected if anyone–not just your targeted audiences–can view your ads. At this point, we’re explaining to brands that there’s no need to worry; anyone who visits your Info and Ads section will have limited ability to interact with the ad itself. Engagement is restricted so viewers cannot Like, Comment, or Share the ad, and views via the Info and Ads section will not be counted towards Impressions and Reach.
The one perceivable gray area here is that they will be able to click any CTA included in the ad. This could potentially skew your website traffic data, but as we mentioned earlier, in its adolescent stages this won’t be a highly trafficked tab by your potential or current customers and so any impact on your traffic metrics will be nominal. As for whether or not clicks on your ad’s CTA will be counted as a conversion is still unclear, but it’s something to pay attention to in the months to come.
Change is Good
Sure, as marketers, we were all a bit surprised when Facebook made this particular move towards greater transparency on its platform, but such is the game of digital marketing. Change is inevitable in our industry and the only way to survive is to roll with the punches. We’re now looking at the Info and Ads feature as a really great tool for brand; not only because it will help us remain innovative with our own ads, but because it will help maintain the integrity of a powerful and integral marketing platform that lost the trust of the very individuals it was meant to serve. As far as we’re concerned, there’s nothing wrong with holding ourselves and our industry to a higher standard.