Digital Strategy

October 28, 2023

How to Use Facebook (Meta) Ad Library to Your Competitive Advantage

If like me you feel like the world of digital marketing within travel and hospitality is constantly changing, understanding your competitors’ advertising strategies can be an absolute game-changer. Enter the Facebook (Meta) Ad Library—a seriously powerful tool designed to provide unprecedented transparency in the realm of social media advertising. Whether you’re a seasoned marketing professional or a newbie navigating the landscape, the Meta Ad Library is a goldmine of insights that empowers you to stay informed, inspired, and ahead of the curve. I guarantee using this *totally free* tool will change the way you think and feel about paid ads – trust me!

Hi, I’m Sophie, the founder of The Travel Social Agency. Armed with almost a decade of experience managing the digital marketing of some of the world’s most successful companies, I launched my freelance business with the aim of helping business owners and marketers in the travel and hospitality industry connect with discerning travellers and level up their marketing efforts.

I’ve designed this blog post for business owners or marketing professionals in the travel, hotel and leisure industries (well any space really) to discover what it takes to totally crush your competitors dreams by staying ahead of the trends, and levelling up your advertising. I’ll talk about what Meta Ad Library actually is, as well as my humble reasons as to why you NEED to start using it. I’ll also share a step-by-step guide on how to set it up and, *spoiler*, it’s ridiculously quick and easy (no account necessary)…

So, what even is Meta Ad Library?

The Meta Ad Library is an online treasure trove of information and transparency, primarily focused on advertisements across Facebook and Instagram. As you may or may not be aware, not-so recently, Facebook was rebranded as Meta, reflecting the company’s broader ambitions, but the Ad Library retains its core purpose—to shed light on advertising activity within the Meta ecosystem.

This digital repository allows anyone with an internet connection to explore and analyse advertisements run by individuals, businesses, organisations, and even political entities. So, you can think of it as a literal goldmine of your competitors advertising activity – the stuff they’re actually spending money on! From straightforward sponsored posts to elaborate ad campaigns, it’s all there, waiting for you to dig into. Disclaimer: I’ve spent HOURS on Ad Library sizing up my competition.

Ok, but why should I use it?

You just should, alright? The Meta Ad Library is a game-changer for several reasons (and I promise I’m not just waffling). It promotes transparency, holds advertisers accountable, and fosters an environment of openness and trust in the digital marketing space. Here’s why it’s one of my most essential tools I use during research for my own business, as well as my clients campaigns:

  1. Transparency – It provides a window into the advertising efforts of brands and organisations and can help you see what’s resonating with travellers and potential guests. Want to know what your competitors are up to? The Ad Library has the answers. This transparency provides such valuable insights into their targeting, messaging, and overall strategy.
  2. Ad Accountability – The Ad Library can help you track ad campaigns, view ad content, monitor spending and ensure everything aligns with industry standards and adhere’s to ethical practices in the travel and hotel industry. It’s a watchdog for truth in advertising, and don’t forget it works both ways. Once you’ve optimised your own ads, you can use it as a quick view of everything that’s live on your owned channels.
  3. Inspiration – For marketers and advertisers, it’s an invaluable resource for creative inspiration. Examining your competitors’ ad creatives can spark inspiration for your own campaigns. Analyse the visual and textual elements that resonate with your target audience, and get to work adapting these ideas to your unique branding and offerings. Whether it’s finding the ideal blend of video, carousel ads, or sponsored posts, this tool allows you to fine-tune your strategy to match what’s working best in your industry. You’ll also be able to identify emerging trends and adapt your strategy accordingly. This is crucial in an industry that’s constantly evolving, with customer preferences shifting rapidly.
  4. Political Transparency – Travel and hospitality marketing isn’t just about leisure. It’s also about responsible tourism. The Meta Ad Library assists in tracking political advertising within the industry, ensuring transparency in messaging and spending. For travel and hospitality businesses, staying informed about regulatory changes is crucial. Monitor your competitors’ ad adjustments, as they may be indicative of shifts in regulations or industry standards that you need to adapt to.

How does it actually work?

The Meta Ad Library functions as a user-friendly database and requires absolutely no sign-up, as simple as planning your dream escape! Simply visit the Ad Library webpage and start exploring. You can search for ads by entering keywords, page names, or even filter by location (shown above). You’ll find detailed information about each ad, including when it was active, who it targeted, and some even show the actual ad spend. This open book of data is one of my absolute favourite resources.

Whether you’re interested in dissecting your competitors’ strategies, keep tabs on the pulse of travel politics, or find creative inspiration for your own travel and hotel marketing campaigns, the Meta Ad Library is your portal to transparent advertising in the digital age.

So, are you ready to uncover the secrets of successful ad campaigns, stay informed about industry trends, and take your marketing game to the next level? The Meta Ad Library is your key to doing just that. You’d better get started!

What I learnt from Mr & Mrs Smith’s Ad Library

Ok, so here’s where it gets interesting. You guys know I love everything Mr & Mrs Smith does… so I decided to analyse their active ads. Here’s what I learnt…

It’s evident they only have four active ads, two of which are clearly part of an incentive campaign to celebrate their birthday, and the other two are broader (but still pretty specific) to showcase some of the niche holidays they sell. I literally LOVE the dog-friendly hotels ad, how damn sweet! When I compare this number of ads to other traditional tour operator’s I’ve worked for, it’s wild how selective they are. We used to spend SO MUCH money on paid ads in a previous role, but the creatives and messaging wasn’t considered enough to make an impact. We didn’t truly know who we were as a brand, and that’s where Mr & Mrs Smith get it so right.

Ok, so if Mr & Mrs Smith were my direct competitor, I’d take a look at these birthday incentive ads and figure out how I could achieve an even sexier offer. They’re offering £50 off your next booking? How about I offer £75 off… catch the gist?

When I click ‘see summary details‘ on the first ad, I also see that it has 9 different variations but the creative is pretty much the same on all (except a slight difference to the CTA), which tells me 1. they’re blasting this ad on multiple channels and 2. they’re clearly targeting a variety of audiences. This will help them really dig deep into who’s responding best to their brand, and where they need to shift spend.

Ready to get started? Here’s your assignment…

If you do one thing for your business today, take these 5 steps to level up your campaigns and ensure you’ve always got a competitive advantage:

  1. Write down a list of 5 direct competitors and 5 indirect competitors.
  2. Open up Facebook (Meta) Ad Library.
  3. 1 by 1, search for each competitor and write down the pros and cons for each of their ads.
  4. Examine the frequency, quantity and platforms used from each business.
  5. Use this information to build out your own campaigns and think smart!

Follow me on Instagram @thetravelsocialagency and show me what you’ve achieved!