Spy on Your Competitors with the Facebook Ad Library

Facebook Ads
Apr 21, 2022
Oct 24, 2023
9 mins
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Facebook ad library

The Facebook Ad Library is one of the best ways to spy on your competitors. Learn the top 3 ways you can use this free tool to improve your own Facebook ad campaigns.

It can be hard to come up with an exciting and engaging Facebook ad design, especially when you're just starting out.

Luckily for us, the Facebook Ad Library (now called the Meta Ad Library) contains a whole treasure trove of ads from every possible industry, location, and language to solve this exact problem.

In this article, we'll cover what the Facebook Ad Library is, how to access it, and 3 simple strategies you can implement right now to improve your campaign results with the tool.

What is the Facebook Ad Library?

Formerly known as the Facebook ad archive, the Meta ad library is a giant collection of all active ads across the Meta suite of products, including Messenger, Audience Network, and notably, Instagram. While there isn't a separate Instagram Ad Library, you can easily access all active Instagram ads within this tool.

While this tool is a great feature for advertisers (more on that in a minute), it was originally created as a transparency tool after the 2016 Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Even though the tool has a darker history behind it, it still has a wide array of uses that are helpful to advertisers.

The Facebook Ad Library search will give you access to thousands of ads which can be sorted by country, type of ad, and even advertiser. While there is no specific Instagram Ad Library, all active Instagram ads are also visible in the Facebook Ad Library.

The Meta (Facebook) Ad Library

Once you've set up your search, you can then see the ad details like creative and copy, as well as the start date, platform, and ad ID.

Facebook Ad Library - Ad Screenshot

Now that we've learned what the Meta Library is, it's time to get into some of the inner workings and see how you can use it to improve your Facebook ad strategy.

Is the Facebook Ad Library free?

The Meta Ad Library is one of the very few instances where the phrase "it sounds too good to be true" doesn't apply. The Ad Library is completely free to use, and anyone can access it (even if you do not have a Facebook account).

There is one caveat, though: If you would like to report an ad for being against Facebook ToS or view an ad with adult content (tobacco, etc.), you would need to sign in with a Facebook account.

Does the Facebook Ad Library show all ads?

As we mentioned earlier, the Ad Library features all the currently active ads across Facebook. It also features inactive political ads and ads about elections or social issues. Facebook decided to add the latter two to the inactive ad list to add more transparency around unlawful discrimination by advertisers.

The Ad Library will show ads regardless of whether you have personally viewed them or not. This makes it a true powerhouse for any advertiser looking to search the Facebook ads of their competitor's and get some creative inspiration in the process.

How do I get to the Facebook Ad Library?

There are two main ways to access the Meta Ad Library. The simplest way is to go directly to the URL (https://www.facebook.com/ads/library) and start adding your geographical location and other parameters in the search bar to conduct a Facebook ad search by criteria.

You can also get to the Ad Library by viewing any Facebook Page and clicking “See all” under the Page transparency section:

Facebook Page Transparency

Then, select "Go to Ad Library" under the "Ads from this Page" section:

Facebook Page - Ad Library

This method will allow you to go directly to that advertiser's page in the Ad Library tool, but ultimately both options will get you where you need to go.

What is the advantage of using the Facebook Ad Library?

You may be asking yourself why you should bother to look at what your competitors are doing, and there's a clear answer: inspiration and a competitive edge. 

Using the Ad Library as a Facebook ad spy tool can be extremely beneficial because just like artists, we all take inspiration from the world around us. We're moved by what we see, remember how it makes us feel, and see first-hand how it's shaping our culture.

Likewise, in the ad world, we can see what ad creatives resonate with our audiences or are too irresistible not to click. This can help us shape our marketing strategy and prevent us from creating expensive campaigns that do not convert.

How to use the Facebook Ad Library

While 'inspiration' is a general term, there are several specific ways you can use the Facebook Ad Library to improve your ad results based on the Meta ad examples your find there.

Research your competitors’ FMS - format, messaging, and style

While several different elements make up a Facebook ad, there are 3 overarching themes you look at when you judge one: format, messaging, and style.

Format refers to the type of ad you're looking at—whether it be video ads, carousel ads, static image ads, etc. Knowing which of these formats your audience prefers is one of the keys to creating an engaging ad.

Within the Ad Library, you can use the search filters to browse specific ad formats by using the Media type filter:

The Facebook Ad Library - Filters

From here, you can view all ad creatives with that same media type. You can then get an overview of how your competitors are using that specific format to their advantage and how you can adapt their strategies to your own campaigns.

Messaging, on the other hand, refers to the tonality of your ad creative. It looks at how you speak to your audience, the words you use, and the overall feeling the graphics and copy convey. It also includes how you position your product in the market and the angle you take when speaking to your audience.

To this extent, you can use the Ad Library to view how other advertisers are speaking to their target audience by looking at the ad copy and noting any patterns in phrases used or types of offers that are pitched. You can then try these strategies with your own campaign copy by adding your own brand's unique selling points and value propositions.

Style, as you might have guessed, is more of a visual representation of your brand. For example, using bright neon colors in your images and copy that speaks to teens will likely not appeal to an older demographic. Just like with the formatting part we mentioned above, you can get a broad overview of the types of imagery other brands are using to come up with your own unique creative concepts.

Once you understand which formats, messaging, and styles work best in your industry, you can use these to your advantage to improve your results.

Examine your competitors’ A/B tests

In my experience, a good Facebook advertiser is like a scientist—they're constantly testing theories before stating absolute truths.

Another benefit of the Facebook Ad Library is that it allows us to see what sort of experiments others are running with their ads.

When looking at an ad creative, you might see a message appear that says, 'This ad has multiple versions':

A/B tests on the Facebook Ad Library

This means that the advertiser is running a split test (or A/B test) on the ad. If you click on the 'See ad details' button, you can view each ad variation to determine which elements are being tested.

For example, in this ad, Shopify tests two different images but keeps their copy the same.

Shopify A/B test example

With this information, we can replicate the same tests in our own campaigns without all the guesswork.

Keep up with advertising trends

With the amount of information flowing out into the internet every day, it can be hard to keep tabs on everything that's going on. But with the Meta Ad Library, you have access to the ultimate trend repository.

For example, let's say we want to get some inspiration for our next video campaign on our latest shoe launch. All we need to do is use the Meta Ad Library's filters to search for the term 'shoes,' select by the video media type, and click search.

Shoes search results on the Facebook Ad Library

Now I'm able to see all the video ads that have the term 'shoes' in their ad copy or video transcript. With this, you can again denote common patterns and trends in the videos you see and apply them to your next campaign.

Sometimes taking a step back to look at other brands you might not have heard of yet can give you some much-needed perspective.

By following multiple advertisers in your industry (or related industries), you can stay up-to-date with the latest marketing trends.

Troubleshoot - Why is the Facebook Ad Library not working?

As in life, not everything goes as expected—the same goes for technology. There are several common issues that can prevent you from being able to use the Facebook Ad Library properly.

Your ad isn't showing when you search for it. According to Facebook's documentation, it takes around 24 hours after an ad gets its first impression to appear in the Ad Library. If your campaign is new, you might need to wait before you see it appear. Any updates to your ad creative need an additional 24 hours as well.

You're searching for restricted content. While Facebook does allow brands to advertise for restricted topics like alcohol, gambling, and online dating, you will not be able to see these ads in the Ad Library unless you are signed in to a Facebook account.

You've been overusing the library. Too much of a good thing applies here, too. While it isn't very common, our team has seen instances where overusing the Ad Library can result in being blocked from the service entirely. We couldn't find any documentation on this issue or exactly how much use is considered abuse, but we felt it necessary to mention it here today.

Craft winning ads with Madgicx’s Creative Workflow

As we've learned today, taking a look at what others in the industry are doing is imperative to your success.

Enter Madgicx’s Creative Workflow, a one-stop ad production solution that offers a seamless journey from your ad’s conception to its grand debut!

Madgicx Ad Library dashboard.

You start by browsing and saving Meta ad inspiration in Madgicx's Ad Library. From there, send a brief via Sparkle with your ad references attached. Your designs will be ready in just 48 hours. Once done, they're automatically uploaded to Meta Ads Manager, allowing you to launch your ads either from there or directly via Madgicx.

Bonus 🛎: Madgicx Ad Library is completely free! You can start a trial to save ads to boards, and the Ad Library search stays FREE FOREVER!


All in all, the Facebook Ad Library is one of the most powerful tools you have in your advertising repertoire to help you spy on your competitors and find creative inspiration in the process.

Learning how to use this tool to research and improve your own campaigns will give you a leg up on the competition and increase your revenue at the same time.

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Facebook Ads
Apr 21, 2022
Oct 24, 2023
Tory Wenger

Tory is a digital marketing specialist and the current Marketing Manager of Breadcrumbs.io. She's been featured in various high-profile marketing blogs like Hootsuite, AdEspresso, and Databox and holds certificates for both Google and Facebook Ads. In her spare time, she gardens and paints from her house in the Florida panhandle.

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