Get a sneak peek at your competition with Facebook’s View Ads feature

Facebook’s View Ads

Facebook finally launched its new View Ads feature globally earlier this month, on the 6th of July. It caused quite the shakeup amongst digital professionals, but as Twentyone’s social media manager, lots of our customers have told me they’re still finding it tricky to get a simple, straightforward explanation of how it all actually works.

So, I’m going to skip all the technical jargon and all the other bits you don’t need, and just give you a quick, simple guide on how you can benefit from the View Ads feature – both as a business, and as an individual!

Here’s what I’ll be covering:

What is Facebook’s View Ads feature?

In some ways, it’s pretty self-explanatory! Facebook developed the feature in response to some huge recent data scandals, with the 2016 US elections and Cambridge Analytica being two of the biggest. At its core, the feature is designed to increase Facebook’s transparency by letting people clearly connect Facebook paid ads to the organisations that have paid for them. The View Ads feature gives more transparency in two basic ways. The first is through individual Facebook ads, and the second is through a business’s own Facebook page.

For any paid Facebook advert appears in your timeline, you can now click on it to find out the demographics the advertiser is targeting, and how you fit into them. Alternatively, you can go directly to any business’s official Facebook page and find out all the paid ads they’re running on Facebook, Instagram (which Facebook owns) and Facebook Messenger. This information is visible to anyone who cares to look at it, regardless of whether they fit into the intended audience.

The feature was initialled trialled in Ireland and Canada, but as of the past few weeks it’s been rolled out globally.

How does it work?

As I mentioned above, there are two main parts to it. First, let’s look at individual paid Facebook posts.

Individual advertisements

You’ll have seen paid posts before; they’re the ones that appear in your timeline from certain Pages or businesses, always labelled as Sponsored. Here’s one from one of our clients, Moss Hall Kitchens. See those little dots up on the upper right hand side? As of July, clicking on that will now cause you to see a new option: “Why am I seeing this?”

Facebook Carousel Advert

Click on that, and it’ll tell you a bit of information about the advertisement, like so:

Individual advertisements

You might find that the amount of detail you’ll get between different adverts will vary. In this case, you can see that Moss Hall Kitchens (understandably) wants to reach people interested in kitchens. Sometimes you’ll get additional details, for example “men between the ages of 18 and 36 who live in Lancashire”. If you want, it also gives you an option to opt out from seeing these adverts in future.

Business Pages

So that’s one side of it – now let’s look at Pages. When you first land on the Facebook Page or a business or organisation, you’ll see a column down the left hand side that lists Home, Shop, About etc. At the bottom of that list, you’ll now find a new tab, labelled as Info and Ads. This will show you all the current paid Facebook advertisements the business is currently running through that Page.

Facebook Business Pages

By default, it’ll show you the ones they’re running in your current location (which is likely to be the United Kingdom). If you want though, you can widen that scope to Global, allowing you to see all the adverts they’re running worldwide. This can also lead you onto other related Facebook Pages, giving you a better idea of who the business is competing against.

Now, there are a couple of notes that it’s important for me to mention/reiterate:

  • You don’t have to be part of the intended audience to see this information about these ads. Facebook have explicitly stated this as one of their core goals: to make the connections between adverts and businesses completely transparent, regardless of who they choose to target.
  • While you can find out the targeting of sponsored posts that appear on your timeline, you can’t find out these demographics from the Page. According to Facebook, the feature doesn’t show the targeting, budget or spend of each advertisement. Businesses have to keep some information confidential!
  • Businesses don’t get charged or penalised in any way when users access this information. So as a business owner, don’t worry about it affecting your budget!
  • Right now (August 2018), the feature only displays ads that are currently running. Facebook are considering whether to eventually apply this to all historical ads too, so that users can see all the paid adverts that a business has ever run, even if some aren’t active any more.

What it means for you

First of all, it’s great news for users. It gives them more information and greater control over the advertisements that are being targeted at them. If you have a personal Facebook account, and you use the platform even semi-regularly, it’s difficult to see the update as anything other than good news.

As for businesses, it’s a little more complicated. Understandably, some business owners have expressed concern about giving the general public so much insight into their carefully planned advertising campaigns. Don’t forget though, that you can still use it to your own advantage. Specifically, the View Ads feature can form a valuable part of your competitor research when you’re forming your own social media campaigns, allowing you to see the spaces in which your competitors are advertising as well as letting you confirm who they’re competing against directly. Sure, it’s a double-edged sword, but that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from it!

And if you need help on where to start, that’s exactly what I’m here for. Social media marketing is one of our core services here at Twentyone, and as the agency’s social media executive, I’ve got plenty of experience in crafting bespoke social media campaigns that deliver on your specific commercial objectives. For a recent example, check out how we delivered success for luxury brand Haute Dolci, boosting their social media following by thousands over the space of just a few weeks. Alternatively, just give us a call on 01254 660 560, and find out how we can help you make it on the web!

Ben Earnshaw
As Twentyone’s Social Media Executive, Ben is responsible for crafting engaging, innovative campaigns that achieve each client’s specific commercial objectives. As well as curating content through liaising with in-house copywriting and design teams, Ben is constantly adapting his campaigns to the latest industry trends, to ensure they’re always delivering the very best results.

By | News, Social Media | 16th Aug, 2018

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