This post was originally published in 2019. We have updated it as of July 13, 2021 to reflect changes in the LinkedIn interface.
Researching competitors provides valuable data for any business involved in digital marketing. You can monitor messaging and targeting, see which brands are most aggressive in advertising, and even get ideas to troll your competitors.
Thanks to increasing concerns over privacy, ad platforms have taken measures over recent years to make their advertisers’ information more transparent. Facebook led the way with its Ads Library, and now LinkedIn has added a feature where you can see all ads associated with a page.
As LinkedIn is the core platform of choice for reaching niche B2B audiences, the Ads tab allows for a wealth of research potential when looking at your competitors’ tactics. Of course, the trade-off is that they’ll be able to see your ads, as well.
How to View a Page’s Ads
To access a LinkedIn business page’s ads, go to the page and look for the “Posts” tab in the navigation bar and then “Ads”.
Based on looking at existing clients’ pages, it appears that ads are shown in order of creation (with the latest ads at the top). Also, note that ads from recently paused or completed campaigns may show up here, so don’t assume that everything you see is active.
According to LinkedIn, ads appear here if they have been shown to a member at least once in the past 6 months.
In addition, you can’t see any information about how the ads were targeted (unlike Facebook).
What Can You Learn?
So, how is this information practical for advertisers? There’s a wealth of information you can glean from snooping on competitor tactics.
First, by checking the Ads tab, you can gauge how much effort competitors are putting into LinkedIn Ads. If there aren’t any ads showing up, they haven’t advertised in the last 6 months, and you know you have an advantage over them. Vice versa, if you see 100 ads showing up, you know they’re likely putting a decent sized budget into LinkedIn.
Next, look to see which formats of ads they’re running. Are they using strictly sponsored content ads, or are they testing lead gen forms (You can even click the CTA button and fill out a lead form directly from the Ads tab!)? If you haven’t tested lead gen forms, and you see multiple competitors in your industry trying them, perhaps it’s a tactic worth testing.
Review the creative and copy you see for ideas you can incorporate in ads. What sorts of images are competitors using? Are they showing their products in action, and do you have imagery that might show your product as more attractive? What benefit points are they calling out in their copy? If a competitor is mentioning that they’ve been in business 10 years, and you’ve been in business 15 years, it may be worth calling out your experience as an advantage.
Finally, look at which content is generating the most engagement. While you can’t view comments or interactions directly from the ads section, you can view this information in a roundabout way.
Click the three dots in the upper right of a post and select “Copy link to post.” Then, paste this link into your browser to view the actual post, along with any comments. If there is a topic people are particularly engaged with, perhaps that’s worth using for a future blog post or whitepaper to promote on LinkedIn.
Now, it’s time to take your list of top competitors and start snooping on their LinkedIn pages. Note what ads they’re running and see what you can learn!
What are your thoughts on the LinkedIn Ads tab rollout? Are you more excited to see competitor info or more annoyed that your info is public? Share your thoughts in the comments below!