What Are Your Competitors Doing for Digital Advertising?Katie Pray
When I was selling radio advertising, one of the very first things I did when I would get a new business on the air is to tell them they were about to get a lot of phone calls from other media groups. Different radio stations were going to call and ask for a meeting, along with other TV stations, local magazines, and billboard companies; it’s the nature of the beast. As a radio seller, I was guilty of doing the same thing and going after businesses that were not advertising on my stations but were on other forms of media. Figuring out where and what businesses are doing for their marketing was pretty transparent because all you had to do was turn on the radio or TV and wait for commercials, or take a drive down the highway and see who was spending money on billboards. With digital advertising, it might be a little bit harder to determine where a business is placing ads, but there are some tips and tricks that you can utilize to keep an eye on your competitors, and also see what they might be doing.
One of the tools that you can utilize is an extension or an app that you can download called Ghostery. What this tool is going to do is tell you if a competitor has in the past, or is currently doing any advertising. To install this extension/app, you will go to www.ghostery.com and install it onto your web browser, or download the free app from your app store.
Once that extension/app is installed, you’re going to go to whatever website that you want to look at and then click on the blue ghost that appears right next to the search bar.
When you click on the ghost, it is going to show you a pop up menu, and the main thing you are going to be looking at is “Advertising”.
What this is going to tell us is that this website has or is currently doing some type of digital advertising. Some things to note under the advertising trackers would be “Google AdWords”, “Facebook Custom Audience” or “Amazon Associates”.
If you see Google AdWords as a tracker, that means they are currenlty doing, or have done Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads in the past. This is an opportunity where you could run a digital campaign utilizing keyword targeting with display, native, or video pre-roll ads. Keyword Targeting is different than PPC because we are reaching people that go to web-pages and apps that feature keywords related to the business, across all devices. Pay-Per-Click ads are the ads that you see at the top and the bottom of the search engine results page. We are talking about the pages that people click on in the organic section of the search engine results page. Keyword targeting can be done with Display, Native, and Video Pre-Roll ads.
Another tracker that might show up is Facebook Custom Audience. If you see this, that means that competitor has or is currently using a list comprised of first name/last name/zip code, phone number, and/or email address to find those people when they are on Facebook and then serve them ads while they are on Facebook. This is a great strategy to use for businesses that have collected customer data because these people are already familiar with the brand, so the ROI tends to be higher.
If you see the Amazon Associates tracker, that means that competitor is buying ads through the Amazon Demand Side Platform (which is something that you are also able to do).
Another neat little tool that you can use is www.k-meta.com. With this tool, you will be able to see the top keywords that people are using when searching for that business. To find this out you simply type in the URL of the business you are looking at and click search.
From here, you will see the top keywords that people are using to search for Chick-fil-A:
This is great information to have because you can then take these words and use them in any type of marketing or advertising that you’re doing, and you can also use them in your Search Engine Optimatzion (SEO). Going back to Keyword Targeting, we could also incorporate these words into a Keyword Targeting campaign that you might be running.
Another cool aspect of www.k-meta.com is that if a business is doing PPC ads, it will also list that information. If you scroll down further past the top keywords that are listed, you will actually see the ads that company is running, and what keywords people are using to get that search result:
If you want to see if a competitor is doing ads on Facebook, that is something you can also look at. If you go to their Facebook business page and click on Page Transparency, it will then open up a window and show if they are currently running ads.
If they ARE running ads, you can click on “Go to Ad Library” and it will show you what ads they are currently running, along with what platforms they are utilizing within Facebook. Something to note when using this tool is that it is only going to show ads that are CURRENTLY running. For example, if Burger Kind ran an ad that started on Monday and ran through Saturday and I looked at the Page Transparency on Sunday, it would say “this page is not currently running ads” because it will only show what is currently running.
In this example, we can see that they are running ads on Facebook and Instagram based on the icons in the upper right-hand corner.
There is another tool you can utilize within your Facebook Insights account that will allow you to keep an eye on your competitors. If you log into your Facebook Business page and click on “Posts” on the left-hand side under Insights and go to “Top Posts from Pages You Watch”, this is where you can load up to 5 of your competitors and then it will show what posts they have made and what kind of engagement those posts have received. This is really great information to have because it gives you a look behind the curtain as to what kind of response those posts are getting from consumers. If Burger King is posting about a Happy Hour special with soft drinks and it gets a lot of engagement with people sharing the post, or commenting on it, or emojing it, than that might be something that McDonald’s might want to incorporate as well.
Within Google Analytics, there is also a report that you can pull to benchmark your metrics against other websites in the country, or you can narrow it down to just the state you are located in; it’s call the Audience Benchmarking Channels report. To do this you will log into your Google Analytics and go to the left-hand side were the menu options are and select Audience–> Benchmarking –> Channels:
From here, you will select the industry that your business falls in, the area in which you want to compare, and how many visitors you typically get to your website. In this example, we are looking at a business that falls into the banking category, and we want to compare our website to other banking websites located in Minnesota that receive about 0-99 visitors per day so that we are comparing apple to apples.
Now we are able to see where your business compares to other banking websites in Minnesota with similar website traffic to you, along with how people are finding you.
The light blue line represents the monthly visitors of other websites in the banking categories in Minnesota with similar website traffic and the dark blue line represents your business. In this example, other banks and credit unions in our area are getting more traffic than our business is:
What else we can tell from this report is where that website traffic is coming from, and then we can compare our business to others like it and see where we stand. Anything in red means you are below the benchmark, anything is green means you are above the benchmark, and anything in white means you right about average.
Organic Search means theses are people that found you by going through a search engine like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. In this example, our business gets 72% less organic traffic than other banking websites like them. This would be a great opportunity to run a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign because they are not receiving enough traffic from search engines.
Direct means that person typed in the website URL directly into their search browser; they went to www.mybankingcompany.com and came to the website that way. “Direct” is also where Google Analytics puts website traffic where it can’t determine where it is coming from. We are 84% below the benchmark in this category, so this would be great indicator that this business needs some advertising because aren’t familiar enough to search for www.mybankingcompany.com.
Referral refers to the traffic to the website that came from clicking on a link from another website. It could be a directory, a blog post listing, etc.
Social means that that traffic came from a social media platform like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
Display means people clicked on an ad that you’re running and came to your website through that ad.
Email means someone clicked on a link to your website in an email.
Paid Search means people clicked on a Pay-Per-Click ad and came to the website
Marketing can be difficult for business owners because you have to not only think about what you are going to promote or talk about, but you also have to decide where you are going to promote your message. With these tools, you can be your own Inspector Gadget and get an idea as to what your competitors are doing, what they are promoting, and even what kind of engagement they are getting from current and potential customers.