Instagram Ad Spy Tools: Get Inspiration From Your Competition

It takes a lot of effort to succeed in social media advertising (or in any kind of advertising, for that matter). You're always trying to make that beautiful ad that gets you a buttload of conversions and not just create another run-of-the-mill ad.

instagram ad spy


But the sad truth is that it's challenging to develop high-performing ad campaigns. It’s not as if you can easily think of an angle or ad creative that will be a hundred percent instant hit! Even when you do, you still have to test and optimize these ads to ensure you're giving your audience precisely what they like or need to see.


Ever heard of the saying "work smart and not hard"? In this case, it translates as being strategic with your advertising rather than just creating a buttload of them. 


Keeping an eye on your competition is a great way to know what works for your business. It's not only less stressful than carrying out dozens of tests, but it also gives you access to some of the best winning strategies used by successful brands in your niche.


It's almost like letting your competition do the heavy-lifting for you since most of them already run social media ads that have been proven to perform best.


You can learn your competitor's creative strategies and customize them according to what your brand needs.


In this article, we’ll show you how to examine your competitor's Instagram ads and how to use the information you acquire to create even better high-performing ads for your brand.


How Spying on Your Competitor’s Instagram Ads Can Help Your Brand


Analyzing your competitor's ads is an important strategy if you want to create high converting ads fast without spending a lot of time and resources. 


It's only normal for brands to keep an eye on their competition in the business world due to its numerous advantages, some of which are as follows: 


Fewer Experiments, More Successful Ads

Trends are constantly changing in social media marketing. Even on social networks like Facebook and Instagram, what works today, might not be as effective tomorrow. This constant change makes it even harder to get that fixed and perfect strategy to fulfill your marketing desires. 


Though you can get the best results through experimentation, we can agree that testing different strategies for a lengthy period can have adverse effects on your business, like failing to drive revenue.


However, by spying on your competitor ads, you can eliminate the need to try and test multiple times and get a head start on what strategy works best. You can learn from their experiments and find out what ads work and don't work in your target market.


Since most of these brands you're competing with are well past the learning stage, all you have to do is analyze their most successful ads and implement the successful aspects in your campaign. Plus, you'll be targeting the same audience base, so you might not need to experiment if you spy on a successful competitor.


You Get to Know Your Target Audience Better

Sometimes, Instagram ads fail because brands may not know what gets their viewers to watch that short video or complete an action.


If you're in such a situation, ad spying could help you know the reason behind the failure of your ads as well as the reason for the success of your competitor's ads. 


This is important because, in the process, you can learn what your viewers like and what they don't. Thus, allowing you to create ads and content that can beat your competitors.


Find Keyword-Focused Content

instagram ad spy keyword research


The primary purpose of social media campaigns is to show your brand to people looking for what you offer. And for this reason, your ads should have the necessary keywords.


Interestingly, spying also helps in this regard. By analyzing your competitor's ad, you can get keywords specific to your niche.


Also, utilizing these keywords can help increase your rank on websites like Google search, even when you’re using social media.


What to Look for When Spying on Instagram Ads

Not knowing what to look for when spying on your competitor's ads would lead you nowhere. To avoid situations like this, here are some things to look out for when analyzing your competition ads:


  • Ad Text

A good text would always drive more traffic and engagement, so pay close attention to the headlines, actual text, and the text length (short form or long form).


The tone of voice is also important. Find out if your competition wrote their ads formally or formally. Also, check if they ask a question or simply pass a message.


Other areas to look out for are the kinds of emojis they use (if any) and what languages they use in their ads (if you are promoting in a country where English is not the first language), or if they use a branded hashtag. 


  • Ad Format

Does your competition use Instagram video ads or image ads? Or do they use both? There are a lot of things to observe when looking at the media used by your competitor. If they use pictures, find out if the images feature people or products and also what kind of products the pictures highlight.


You can also check if the ad uses originally designed images or stock photos. Do they stick to a particular art style or color scheme? Or do they use texts on their pictures?


instagram ad spy video ads


If they do, check out the type of font used and its size. You should also check if your competitor's ad images include CTAs and if they are in text or button form.


On the other hand, if they use videos, find out if the ads use stunning visuals and look into the number of impressions gained by the video. You can also see if the videos feature real people or just the products. 


If they use both images and videos, then check out how they make a balance between video and image ads.


  • Messaging

How did your competitor capture the audience’s attention? Did they use the Problem-Agitate-Solution (PAS) format? Did they focus on the features or did they highlight the benefits? What are the customer pain points that they pressed on?


Based on our previous tests, we have determined that customers rely on their emotions rather than rational thinking when it comes to purchasing, so have a look at the ads you see and evaluate whether they are doing the same or not. 


  • CTAs

Analyzing the call to action of your competitors will help you find out how they convince viewers to take the next steps or click a link.


Another thing to look out for is if your competitors offer special packages, provide discounts, or other incentives (like free trials) in their calls to action. If so, how often?


Other things to note here are the kinds of offers they promote, their choice of CTA ("Learn more" or "Shop now"), if they use customer testimonials or other social proofs, important links, and if they create a sense of urgency in their Instagram ads.


  • Engagements

Check what ads have the most engagement and the highest impact on the users. Analyzing the competition's engagement rates will help you understand what you should be doing. 

Find out how the audience reacts, what they comment on, and if they share the ads. Also, see what ads have the most discussions and what these people say in the comments.


  • Time and Date

Lastly, analyze the publishing pattern of your competition. This way, you'll know when to get more engagements and how long you should keep your ad running. 


Filter your competitor's Instagram ads and go as far back as 90 days. If you see an ad that's still running, then it's probably successful. No one would keep a failed ad running for a long time.


Research Instagram Ads Using the Facebook Ads Library


Facebook Ad Library is the ultimate ad spy tool for beginners as it gives you access to different ads across all Facebook platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. It's absolutely free and doesn't require an account to access its database, except you're looking for adult content.


Though it's limited when compared to the apps that we’ll be discussing later, it's still one of the best because it gives you access to a huge database of ads for free. In fact, we used the Facebook Ad Library to find the best Instagram Ads of 2021!


The tool is easy to use and offers information gotten directly from its social media platforms. That way, you easily see all your competitor's Instagram and Facebook content.


It’s worth noting, however, that the Facebook Ad Library only displays active ads. You also cannot view extra information like engagement rates, impressions, and click. You can see the video view count and the number of reactions (likes, shares, comments, etc.)


While it's incredibly effective for novices, you'd need to combine it with other platforms for the best results.


Facebook ads library gives you the power to look at every ad run by your competitors on every Facebook app. This includes ads on both their Facebook page and Instagram page. The best part is it's not hard to access the Facebook ad library, and you can find the ad example you need in just a few clicks.


Here's what you have to do. 


First, visit the Facebook Ad library, and you'll be given two options to filter the ads you get when you search.


Next is selecting your target country. Facebook supports over one hundred and thirty-seven countries, so there's a high chance you'll find what you're looking for. Also, the country you select will determine the kind of filters you'll get for the second option.


The second option is the select ad category option. Here, you can narrow your search to find ads in a specific niche with the drop-down menu. Only the most popular categories are shown though, so it would be best to choose All Ads if your category is not included in what is listed down (ie. Politics, Properties, Employment, Credit).



The last option is the search bar. You can search for active ads by location, keywords, or advertiser here, based on what is available in the ad text. Once you've put in the keyword or name you want, click search, and you'll see tons of active ads related to your keyword.


If you're not satisfied with your search results, you can narrow down your search with even more filters.


You can filter your results by language, location, platform, advertisers, media types, and impressions by date.


Once you're satisfied with your search result, you can click on see ad details to see how the page designed the ad campaign. You can also visit both the Facebook page and the Instagram account of the brand if you want to see more of their ads.



Five Instagram Ad Spy Tools You Can Try

If you can’t find what you are looking for using the Facebook Ad Library, then you can use ad spy tools. We have prepared a list of the best Instagram ad spy tools that provide a solid analysis of competitors and insights into what works best in your industry. 


While some work with Facebook, others use analyses from other different platforms. So, without further ado, here are the best Instagram ad spy tools to help optimize your social media performance.


1. Social Ad Scout

Are you tired of spending a lot of money trying and testing Instagram advertisements and ad spend amounts? Social ad scout is an ad spy program that works with both Facebook and Instagram social media platforms.


Social Ad Scout is a powerful tool that gives you access to millions of global social ads. It offers a good number of unique features, including the last-seen search option, an intuitive dashboard that dishes out real-time updates, and an Alexa score search option.

instagram ad spy social ad scout

Although Instagram is primarily a mobile app, the social media giant also has a desktop version and several other versions that you can install on smartwatches and game consoles.


Social ad scout keeps up with this by showing ads from both mobile and desktop, allowing you to optimize your ads without leaving any ad format out. You can also engage with live ads that show you a copy when you click on them. 


This ad spy tool boasts an interface that offers maximum speed to complete all your searches within seconds. You can also save ads you like for later and receive notifications when ads with specific keywords are viewed.


One feature that makes this tool amazing is its permanent ads archive. Social Ad Scout keeps a permanent copy of all ads on their servers so you can access it even if the original is no longer available. You can also get the landing page details for the ads and even download them.


Social Ad Scout costs up to $147/month with no free trials.


2. BigSpy

The name 'BigSpy' is no exaggeration as the ad spy tool offers spy ads for Instagram, Facebook, and five other social media platforms.


However, there is a catch. While the information offered for Facebook is well-detailed, the data you get for the other social networks are somewhat restricted. Nevertheless, BigSpy offers some juicy features that are enough to cancel out its downsides.


The tool even boasts recommendations from marketing gurus like Niel Patel, ATP Software, Adam, and many more.

instagram ad spy bigspy


BigSpy has a large ad database of over one billion and comes equipped with powerful search options and a filtering system that effectively separates ads into ad type, formants, CTA, countries, and so on.


Also, you can get trending ads daily with BigSpy's intelligent interface. Here's where things get interesting. BigSpy allows you to get a direct ad copy for your campaign. You can also track the performance of the ads and see how many likes and shares the post has received.


BigSpy is also affordable. They offer a free plan that lets you test the tool. Don't expect much because you'll only have access to one social networking platform.


On the other hand, the basic plan costs $9/month, which gives you access to two networks. You can get all BigSpy features for $99/month.


3. Adspy

When it comes to the best ad spy tools, Adspy is a very popular name. The tool is perfect for spying on the competitor's Facebook ads and Instagram advertising campaigns. It has over ninety million ads from fifteen million advertisers in over two hundred countries. 


AdSpy offers one of the most advanced spy tools on the market and lots of features. Some of these features include an advanced basic search with filters that help sort your search results. You can also search for ads through comments with important keywords.

instagram ad spy adspy


AdSpy's intelligent interface accurately determines an ad's target audience through their gender, age range, and location. If your competitors dominate a particular region or market space, AdSpy will show you everything. 


Plus, Adspy also boasts a speedy interface that makes it easy to scan through millions of records in mere seconds. The interface is also clean and well presented, ensuring nothing can slow down your search.


AdSpy offers unlimited access to all features for only $149/month.


4. PowerAdSpy

PowerAdSpy is an extremely powerful ad spy tool that supports eight social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Google, TikTok, Quora, YouTube, Reddit, and GDN.


This tool offers powerful features that make ad analytics completely visible. It also allows you to view ads live without leaving the platform. Plus, you can take note of the engagement rates in real-time and what the users think of the ad.


Additionally, PowerAdSpy's powerful interface allows you to find the best-performing ads in just a few clicks.


You could build a strong audience network and high-converting ads quickly. These are just some of the features this great tool has to offer.

instagram ad spy poweradspy

PowerAdSpy offers a free plan for ten days, giving you access to most features and up to a hundred searches. There are six other plans, including Basic for $49/month, Standard for $99/month, Premium for $149/month, Platinum for $249/month, Titanium for $299/month, and Palladium for $349/month.


5. AdSpyder

AdSpyder is a pretty new social media ads spying tool that lets you stay ahead of the competition on Instagram. This new tool gives you incredible insights into your competitor's ads — allowing you to see what's working well for them and adapt your own strategy accordingly.


With AdSpyder, you can also see historical metrics for any given ad, get a deep analysis of what's working well, and even steal be inspired by their ad copy for your own campaigns!

instagram ad spy adspyder


Whether you're looking to fine-tune your brand positioning or just get some inspiration for new messaging, AdSpyder is a must-have tool for any serious Instagram advertiser.


They have three plans available: the Basic Plan for $149 per year, the Standard Plan for $249 per year, and the Premium Plan for $299 per year. If your goal is to use the spy toll just for Instagram Ads, then the Basic Plan is suitable enough.


If you want to search based on keywords and be provided with campaign analysis, then you should choose the Premium Plan.


Final Words

It's indeed a lengthy process to hire researchers, advertising agencies, and data analysts for market research. A much easier way would be to know how other companies build their advertising campaigns, reach their target audiences with well-planned targeting data, and invest. Doing this will save you a lot of time and cost when building yours. 


Thanks to the various effective ad spy tools we have today, the process of ad spying has been made very simple. So if you have an advertising agency of your own, or you're a business owner looking to try social media ads, feel free to try the tips and tools recommendations provided in this article for good results.


Once you're ready to launch your Instagram ads, sign-up for a free trial of Brax. Our platform can help you manage ads from multiple social media networks, as well as several native advertising platforms. You can make ad management so much easier. Try us out!

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