Facebook’s Ad Transparency Just Got Better with the New Ads Library

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We live in the age of Facebook marketing. With almost every big and small business present on Facebook, no marketing strategy is complete without Facebook advertising. 

Did you know that Facebook has 80 million small and medium-sized business pages and 24.2% of these pages are using paid media?

Marketers are investing a lot of time, effort, and money into Facebook Advertising. And with so much being put in, it is perhaps Facebook’s obligation to assist marketers in advertising better. 

And to be very honest, Facebook nails it every single time. Constantly updating the interface and adding new features is Facebook’s USP. 

Keeping that in mind, Facebook recently launched the new Ads Library. 

What is the Facebook Ads Library?

According to Facebook:

The Ad Library provides advertising transparency by offering a comprehensive, searchable collection of all ads currently running from across Facebook Products. Anyone can explore the Library, with or without a Facebook account.

You can access all active ads, even ones that may not have been shown to you because you weren’t part of an advertiser’s intended audience.

Ah, okay but let’s travel a bit back in time:

It was in July last year that Facebook had taken the first step towards ad transparency. Back then, when we had to look up some competitor’s ads, we used to visit the company page. 

Scroll down to the left-hand side column and select “Info and Ads”.

As depicted above, we can see the active ad (the bigger rectangle) running in a particular country which we choose. 

What Difference Does the Ad Library Make?

Now with the new feature at our disposal, we can search for any active ads about any topic or competitor. All at a single place. 

You have been saved from visiting some brand’s Facebook page individually, selecting the country of your choice and then checking their ads. 

Now, the process is more direct and easy. 

What Drives the Facebook Ads Library?

The ads library integrates data from the main platform and feeds off it. The large chunk of data that Facebook accumulated over the years comes in handy. 

The major difference is that now anyone can easily search for running ads on any topic. Earlier, this functionality was limited to ads related to politics or issues of importance. 

Now, even if the ad is not targeted to you, you can search for it and view the details.   

Here are a few important observations:

  • All ads related to politics or issues of importance must have a “Paid for by” disclaimer. 
  • Inactive ads on topics other than politics and issues of importance cannot be viewed.
  • Keyword-specific search can only be performed for political ads. 
  • For non-political ads, you need to search by “Page Name” and then check all ads listed for that page. A keyword search for such ads will not work. 

What Has the Ads Library Added

Apart from making it easier for marketers to search, the Ads Library gives you some extra information. 

When we are looking at the different active ads of a Facebook Page, the ad copy and creative will be shown. We will be able to see the month when the particular ad was activated. We will also be able to check similar regional ads (if available) running in other countries.

By clicking on “See Ad Details”, we can view the ad separately and also some information about the Facebook page. 

For political and issues ads, data from the previous seven years is covered. “See Ad Details” for such ads may include metrics like disapproved notice, impressions, amount spent, demographics, locations, etc.

Along with ad transparency, it seems that Facebook has also been working on Page Transparency. This reflects in their “Page Transparency Tab”. This includes the page creation date, the changes in the page name and the countries from where the page is managed. 

When it comes to ad spend, Facebook also shows the amount of money that the page has spent on political ads as a whole and in the recent past. 

We can also report any inappropriate ads and give feedback or report any page from within the Ad Library itself. 

All these features take ad transparency to a whole new level and make it easy to report harmful content. 

Quick Tip:

For people wondering whether we will be charged for ad clicks, impressions via the Ad Library, Facebook has stated that you won’t be billed for people viewing your active ads through this feature. 

In addition, they have also said that, 

“We’ve put controls in place to help avoid views through the feature counting towards your impressions or click-through results, maintaining your insight into how your ads are run across Facebook’s platforms.”

What Still Needs Improvement

Although we are able to view different running ads of a Facebook Page, we are still short of information. Targeted audiences for a particular ad is the main metric competitors are after. Ad spend and budget is another thing which gives an idea about some brand’s main area of interest. 

Both these metrics are still not available to us.        

Using the library for competitor analysis is good but our competitors are also tracking us. 

Adding more transparency to the system will result in winning strategies but some things are better understood in hindsight. 

We will have to wait and watch the Ads Library and how its use will affect marketing in the future.

Over to you!

With the Ads Library, Facebook has taken a big step towards ads transparency. But it would not be unfair to say that it may be a big step with small impact. 

Anyone can access the library and with the information obtained can implement the same in their ads. The game would have been different if other metrics like targeting, budget, engagement, etc. were included. Successful Facebook ad campaigns include good ad copy, proper targeting, appropriate bidding strategy, and useful products. 

If Facebook had shed some light on the missing metrics, it would have been really helpful. Having said that, we all know that this may only be a first step and things might change in the near future. 

Marketers were able to check the running ads earlier as well but with the Ads Library, everything will happen in a streamlined way now. It will be interesting to see how the feature fares in the long run.

How do you plan to use the Facebook Ads Library? Do you even include it in your Facebook Advertising strategy?


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Himanshu Rauthan is an entrepreneur, Co-Founder at MakeWebBetter, BotMyWork and the Director of CEDCOSS Technologies. He has worn many hats in his career – a programmer, researcher, writer, and strategist. As a result, he has a unique ability to manage multi-disciplinary projects and to navigate complex challenges. He is passionate about building and scaling eCommerce development.

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