In this day and age, the world of advertising is facing a paradox, one that is equally contradictory and true in its statement. The paradox lies in this: it is both easier and more difficult than ever to get your advertising noticed.
That is because on the one hand, digital marketing techniques are becoming increasingly advanced by the day. On the other hand, more and more people are launching businesses of their own around the world, thereby saturating the market.
With such levels of unprecedented growth, it can be difficult to make your business stand out. According to recent statistics, the average internet user is exposed to between 4,000 and 10,000 ads per day. But just how many of those do we remember? Not many! Those that stand out from the sea of online marketing materials tend to be the ones that differ from their competitors in some way.
Ad spy tools play a crucial role in creating successful ad campaigns. This useful software helps marketers determine which advertisements are the most advantageous and why, enabling them to create successful ads that reflect current market trends. In this article, we’ll break down some of the most popular ad spy tools today and explain how they can help give you a competitive edge in digital marketing.
What Are Ad Spy Tools?
Before going any further, it’s worth explaining what spy tools are in a bit more detail. An ad spy tool is a software solution that harvests your competitors’ data. More specifically, these programs gather information on other companies’ advertising activities, allowing you to compare your own marketing approach to that of similar brands. Using online spy tools, you’ll be able to see how businesses spend their money on advertising efforts and determine the success of their ads. In other words, you can use an online ad intelligence tool to get a unique window into the marketing world, allowing you to see which strategies have the highest success rates and which aren’t worth your time.
For example, if a competitor ran a particularly successful promotional offer, one that led to lots of organic traffic and high sales rates, this is something you’d be able to find out using spy tools online. With this information, you may choose to run a similar offer of your own in the hope that it will give your conversion rates and revenue a bit of a boost.
If your business isn’t performing as well as it should, an ad intelligence tool can help you find a solution. By investigating your competitors and what they’ve been doing, you can learn from their successes (and their failures!) to gain a competitive advantage.
How Do Ad Spy Tools Work?
Now that you have an idea of what ad spy tools are and what they’re used for, you may be wondering exactly how they work. After all, when using a new piece of software, it only makes sense to learn how it operates. Read on to get some answers about ad spy tools.
Online spy tools have access to large databases that contain information regarding ads on social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Often, they monitor dozens of ad networks and affiliate networks. They also feature handy filtering tools that allow users immediate access to specific statistics and data sets. Examples of commonly encountered spy tool filters include device, network, GEO and browser. This function will also allow you to see hot market trends and compare them to other promotional campaigns that have seen success.
One specific type of intelligence software you might come across is the humble pay-per-click (PPC) spy tool. PPC spying involves monitoring the use of specific keywords or keyword groups in ads. This allows users to determine what sorts of language they should use in their marketing materials to attract the highest possible number of users.
Now that you have a firm understanding of how spy tools work, we’ll go into more detail about the various advantages of using this software technology, explaining what you stand to gain by incorporating spy tools into your digital marketing strategy.
The Benefits of Using Ad Spy Tools
There are a range of benefits you can make the most of when using ad spy tools. In this section, we’ll explore a few of them, showing you the various ways you can apply this software in your current marketing plan. As you’ll see, we’ve broken down these benefits into three broad categories: spying on competitors, analyzing user interactions and exploring audience demographics. Read on to find out about these three categories and what they entail.
Spying on Competitors
When using a spy tool to monitor ads from competing brands, you can determine which advertisements have worked for other businesses in the past. This information can help you devise a new, data-driven marketing strategy, one that will prove to be invaluable and help you gain real results. Because when you know what works, you can implement those strategies yourself — and avoid those doomed to failure.
Analyzing User Interactions
Monitoring user engagement can also be helpful. Often used to track social media ROI, spy bots can provide you with detailed information regarding the number of likes, comments and shares a particular post receives. This allows marketers to find out what is most likely to grab the attention of social media users, which, in turn, will make it easier for you to put together compelling, attention-grabbing ads.
Exploring Audience Demographics
Certain ad spy applications can help advertisers gain a fuller understanding of their target demographic. By determining who your ads reach, you can tailor them to better suit your demographic, increasing the likelihood that you’ll be able to generate organic traffic for your business. This might be through using generational slang, appealing to issues faced by a particular group or employing a specific aesthetic.
List of the Best Ad Spy Tools
There are a range of different ad spy tools out there. They can be divided into four main groups: display, push, native and other ad spy tools. In this section, we’ll present the three best options for each category, giving you a solid place to start when the time comes for you to choose your ad spy software.
Display Ads Spy Tools
This software lets users know which competing businesses currently run display ads, providing useful data on which websites these advertisements appear. With a display ad spy tool, you can determine which ads are the most successful as well as which websites have brought in the most traffic.
Our top three picks for the best display ads spy tools are:
Sensor Tower Ad Intelligence
Pricing: Available on request
- Global coverage
- Refreshes daily
- Contains historical data
Serving both web and mobile-based industries, Sensor Tower Ad Intelligence allows users to monitor the top-performing competitors in their market niche, refreshing available data on a daily basis to ensure that users are never out of the loop. With this software, you’ll have a deeper understanding of key market trends and will be able to review top ads, ad networks, traffic sources and more, with access to 90K advertisers spread across five countries.
Pricing: $249 to $399 per month
- Ad optimization and analysis tools
- Individualized reports
- Access to more than 8 million ads
AdBeat is a good option for people looking to make logical, data-driven decisions for their latest marketing campaign. Using real-time market insights, ad analysis tools and ad optimization tools, this software generates comprehensive, fully customized reports, which you can use to make informed business decisions. These reports feature straightforward graphs that anyone can interpret.
Pricing: $169/month for display; $180/month for social and video; $349/month for display, social and video
- Tracking ad campaigns across multiple platforms
- Viewing your competitors' ad spend
- Using incisive intel to craft effective marketing campaigns
Part of Semrush, a comprehensive SEO and marketing tool, AdClarity is an ads spy tool any marketer would do well to have in their arsenal. This application can be used to spy on just display ads or on a mix of display, social, and video advertisements, allowing users a great deal of flexibility depending on their budget and needs. What’s more, the intel this tool provides is absolutely invaluable, allowing users to see what campaigns their competitors are running, how many impressions they’re getting, and more.
Push Ads Spy Tools
Push spy services, or push notification monitoring services, enable users to keep track of push notifications and pop-ups running in a particular traffic source. An example of this would be a Facebook ad spy tool that alerts users to push notifications on Facebook.
Our top three picks for the best push ads spy tools are:
Pricing: $49 per month
- Filters marketing campaigns by keyword
- Analyzes ad networks
- Finds similar commercials
SpyPush makes it easy to find profitable marketing campaigns using a range of different filters, including keywords, advertisers, country and more. The software offers detailed breakdowns of these campaigns and allows users to download landing pages with a single click for further analysis. Furthermore, this tool continuously monitors marketing materials from the 10 best ad networks.
Pricing: $149 to $249 per month
- Filters marketing campaigns by keyword, network, publisher and more
- Downloads landing pages instantaneously
- Has data on more than 100 affiliate networks
AdPlexity users can use this handy platform to search for hot marketing trends, enjoying access to an international database available in a range of different languages. Adplexity’s flexibility is perhaps its most appealing feature, though, as it can be used for all sorts of marketing campaigns, including native, push, desktop and more. It can also be used specifically as a Facebook ads spy tool.
Mobidea Push Spy Tool
Pricing: $89.99/month for push options; $139.99/month for push and native options
- CPC bid visibility
- Detailed data offering great insights
- Useful search options
Mobidea Push Spy Tool provides users with access to millions of ads, which can be filtered using an impressive range of search options. Using this tool, you can gain the upper hand over your competitors by determining which push campaigns are performing the best.
Native Ads Spy Tools
Native ads are designed to blend in with its host’s platform, meaning that they’re less intrusive than many other kinds of ads. Native advertising spy tools are specifically designed to help you identify them more easily, which will help save valuable time that can be better spent elsewhere.
Our top three picks for the best native ads spy tools are:
Pricing: Free (with limited ad view) to $49/month
- Can be used as a Facebook spy tool
- Filters by ad position, ad category, popularity and more
- Audience demographic filters
Packed with a range of useful functions, this tool is one of the most flexible Facebook ad spy tools on our list. PowerAdSpy’s single best feature might just be its search algorithm. With a variety of search filters available, users can quickly and easily browse the software’s sizable database, sorting through its 15 million ads for what they need. If you want the ability to search multiple social media networks from the same convenient platform, this native ad spy tool is a great option since it includes six social media sites.
Native Ad Buzz
Pricing: $47 to $750 per month
- Handy “favorite ads” feature
- Quickly discovers hot market trends
- Filters by advertiser, device type and more
Native Ad Buzz’s favorite feature is one that is surprisingly simple and fairly unique: if you come across an advertisement you particularly like, it allows you to save it for quick reference. This native ad spying tool is laid out in a clear, intuitive way, so that it’s easy for users to quickly find the information they’re looking for.
Pricing: $69.99/month for native options; $139.99/month for native and push options; $219.99/month for all 3 options
- Integrates easily with multiple platforms
- Over 10 million ads across 80 countries
- Straightforward and user-friendly layout
Covering an impressive 27 advertising networks, Anstrex analyzes hundreds of ads in a matter of moments, saving you time and delivering almost instant search results. With this tool, users can easily find crucial information about successful promotional campaigns, such as how long they ran for and on which platforms.
Other Ad Solutions
If none of the above options takes your fancy, then perhaps one of the following will. Whatever you decide to go with in the end, we recommend thoroughly researching all the available options first.
With that said, here are three more options for you to consider:
Pricing: $49 to $599 per month
- Option to monitor video ads
- Finds profitable traffic sources in your niche
- Forecasts marketing campaign results
Presenting its users with immediate visual feedback in the form of clear graphs and charts, AdMobiSpy’s easy-to-use dashboard is intuitive and user-friendly. This tool has access to 12 advertisement networks across 70 countries and is a fantastic option for business owners looking to attract organic traffic from profitable sources.
Pricing: $9 to $3.600 per month
- A collection of more than 200 million profitable ads
- Can be used as a Facebook ad spy
- Analyzes competitors’ marketing campaigns
Available at a range of different price points to suit businesses of all sizes, BigSpy is simple to use — but not at the expense of various advanced filtering options. One of its best features is its competitors’ analysis function, which allows users to see what their competition is doing, giving users a competitive edge in terms of market performance.
Pricing: $149 per month
- World’s largest searchable database of Facebook and Instagram ads
- Database updated daily
- Available demographic data on advertisements
Facebook and Instagram are two of the largest social media networks in the world, with Facebook boasting over 3 billion monthly active users and Instagram around 2 billion. Therefore, the fact that AdSpy has the world’s largest searchable database of both is significant: it means that when you spy on Facebook ads and Instagram ads, you have access to a truly staggering amount of marketing materials.
How to Use Ad Spy Tools Effectively
If you’ve made your choice and have selected your spy software, congrats! However, choosing an ads spy tool is only the first step. Once you’ve found the right software, you’ll still need to know how to make the most of the application’s features and spy ads properly. In this section, we’ll relay a few great tips to help users make the most of this game-changing technology, hopefully helping them to find commercial success later down the line!
Here are some of our best tips for using ad spy tools:
- Identify the competition beforehand. The best way to improve a marketing strategy is to compare it with those of other similar companies to see what changes could be made. Identifying your main competitors will not only help you achieve success but also will help you ensure you don’t fall far behind.
- Set clear, actionable goals. When putting together any marketing plan, make sure to set specific — and achievable! — goals. For example, consider which platforms you’re particularly interested in or which KPIs you’re hoping to boost. Defining these ahead of time lets you know what to focus on during your market research.
- Don’t shy away from trial and error. Innovation is the driving force behind digital marketing these days. In the spirit of that, don’t be afraid to experiment with different strategies and techniques! It may be that these don’t pan out, but then again, it could be how you develop your most effective marketing campaign yet!
- Pay attention to hot trends. With more online businesses cropping up and digital marketers pushing the envelope to get their brand name out there, the advertising landscape is constantly changing. Use ad spy tools to monitor any new trends that are starting to boom in popularity. That way, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the curve.
- Regularly analyze ad effectiveness. Be sure to frequently review ads to determine which types are the most effective. A marketing strategy that works one day may not work the next, so it’s important to continually reassess your approach to advertising.
Ethical Considerations and Legal Implications
Before you rush ahead with your shiny new ad spy software, make sure to give appropriate consideration to relevant ethical practices and legal guidelines. For example, ad spy users should keep intellectual property laws at the forefront of their minds, ensuring that they don’t violate such legislation when putting market research to use. Likewise, when using this information, be sure to do so responsibly, carefully weighing the ethical implications of your actions.
Ethical and legal considerations will vary, so it’s difficult for us to give any specific advice. We simply suggest that you try to remain vigilant, taking the time to research local guidelines. That way, you’ll stay on the right side of the law and can formulate upcoming marketing campaigns with a crystal-clear conscience.
Are ad spy tools legal and ethical to use for competitor analysis?
Ad spy tools are not illegal, nor are they inherently unethical to use; however, what matters is how you use them. Guidelines on the use of this technology vary from place to place, so be sure to research the matter thoroughly before making a purchase.
Are there free ad spy tools available, or do they all require a subscription?
There are some free ad spy tools available, yes, though they may not boast the same range of features that paid services do or may not be wholly reliable. Before choosing any such software, we recommend that you do some research, paying special attention to user reviews to help make the right choice.
What information can I gather from ad spy tools, besides ad creatives and copies?
You can get a lot of useful information from spy tools, from details about demographics and global trends to ideas for marketing campaigns and ad analytics. All in all, this software is essential for anyone looking to develop an online digital marketing strategy.
Are there any specific ad spy tools recommended for beginners or advanced users?
One of the best tools for beginners is BigSpy. For one thing, it’s affordable, meaning you won’t lose much money if it doesn’t work out. For another thing, it’s very simple to use while still boasting a good range of features. As for industry veterans, the software you choose should reflect your main goals.
Are there any risks or limitations associated with using ad spy tools?
Using ad spy tools is well worth it for the unique insight it can give into the marketing landscape, but it’s worth noting that not all data and metrics provided are necessarily 100% accurate. Another risk to be aware of is the fact that spy software may end up becoming flooded with low-value ads that provide very little usable data.
Do ad spy tools provide any performance metrics or analytics for competitor ads?
Some spy tools do offer analysis of competing businesses. In fact, some — like AdBeat, for example — can be used to generate reports on your competition’s advertisement strategy and overall performance. Such data is invaluable, as it can help marketers formulate strategies of their own.
Are there any best practices or tips for using ad spy tools effectively and ethically?
As far as using this software ethically, just make sure to research the local laws around ad spy tools and exercise your common sense. To ensure you use them effectively, be sure to set clear goals, identify your main competitors and regularly analyze ads.
While ad spy tools aren’t necessarily infallible, they can still provide digital marketers with invaluable information that is critical for building data-driven advertising campaigns and bringing in more traffic. Through spying on your competitors, monitoring customer engagement and identifying key demographics, you can use this technology to create ads that work. In short, ad spy software is indispensable when it comes to planning marketing campaigns that will connect with target audiences.
If you want to find out more about how ad spy tools can help with marketing, feel free to reach out to MGID for support. In fact, while you’re there, we suggest you create an account with MGID if you haven’t already! If you want to see what our platform has to offer before you do, just click here. Those who register with us will gain access to a wide range of advanced marketing tools and will have support from a highly trained personal manager. What’s more, our users can take advantage of our team of creative specialists as well as our catalog of high-quality publishers. With our support, you can step up your advertising game and reach new heights.