Welcome to the Golden Age of competitive research

One of the largest opportunities we have as PPC marketers is to seize the moment when competitors have stopped paying attention.

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Robert Brady, founder of Righteous Marketing, presented at HeroConf this year on what he’s calling the the Golden Age of competitive research.

The competitive research discussion focused on four main things:

— The process of using Google Scripts to pull Auction Insights

— How to tap into the Bing competitive lab

— How to monitor and leverage competitor Facebook ads

— And, how to tap into your competitors’ funnels

Regarding Google scripts, we should focus on trends instead of exact numbers, see some detail on Google Scripts here.

Are your competitors paying attention?

By reviewing trends you can note not only when new competitors come into the space (whether temporarily or for the long haul) as well as which of your competitors are essentially asleep at the wheel. One of the largest opportunities we have as PPC marketers is to seize the moment when competitors have just stopped paying attention. If you notice sudden changes, you can analyze what the potential reasoning is behind the change and capitalize on it. Monitoring things like average position and top of page rate can be a great way to identify this.

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Microsoft Advertising competition tab (basically auction insights)

A few things to take note of here. On competitive action items, are your competitors behaving differently here? Are they less active? This can make it much easier to exploit and deploy conquest campaigns. Who are the new competitors in the space? If they have smaller budgets or are generic, it will be easy to “flex the muscle,” after they’ve exhausted their daily budget, according to Brady.

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Facebook Ad Snooping

Did you know you can see all of your competitor ads that are running right now?

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You can see not only what they’re running, but you can start to find out how targeting is happening by reviewing the “why am I seeing this ad” option. Types of information you can see include behaviors, and also clicking on other ads or liking pages.

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The Facebook ads library

The completely searchable library for anything that is potentially relatable to our campaign. This data can include spend by advertiser, and detailed data about the ads that are running, including where the ad is being shown and allocation of spend by ad.

The new Facebook transparency gives us a lot of powerful information for:

  • Competitive budget comparisons
  • Messaging reach efficiency
  • Guidance for keyword A/B testing

Also, by clicking on “See Details,” we can see if a competitive ad campaign is:

  • Active or inactive
  • Approved or disapproved
  • Number (range) of impressions received
  • Amount spent
  • Demographic information
  • Locations where the ad was viewed

Some additional action items:

  • If  you like their targeting, you can add to your campaigns, or you can exclude the ones you don’t
  • Creative review – try opposing colors and themes to stand out

Getting into the competitive funnel: The catfishing of competitive research

Become your competition’s ideal customer (and yours right!). Here’s how you can go incognito…

  • Always use a VPN with incognito mode of Chrome; set to impersonate a user in Dallas, TX (or wherever you need it to be)
  • Create new Google accounts; use age & gender as selected for personas; leave all data collection settings in default configuration (be the customer)
  • Visit “clean” sites (dallasnews.com, wfaa.com/local, fox4news.com, msn.com) to check on what ads we’re seeing
  • Check “clean” sites to see how ads change
  • Check google.com/ads/preferences to see how Google is bucketing the persona
  • Fill out your competitors contact forms, download their white papers… see what happens next :)

With the vast amount of information available through smart data mining, there is just no excuse for employing a strategy that does not thoroughly exploit competitor intelligence. It’s there for the taking. You just have to know where to look and what to do with it when you find it!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Amanda Farley
Amanda Farley is a marketer, performance strategist, and business success leader. She is VP of Growth at Aimclear®, a highly decorated, integrated marketing agency dominant in customer acquisition and winner of 17 US Search Awards including 5X most recent Best Integrated Agency. Aimclear's differentiator is the balance of holistic brand-builds, PR, data, and integrated performance marketing.

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