The Best PPC Spy Tools for Competitors Analysis

PPC campaigns play a vital role in the success of any business. One good campaign can help you create a footprint on the market, and as a result, your company will be able to grow at a steady pace. The only problem is that PPC campaigns are complicated. It's made out of thousands of different elements, and finding the right combination by yourself is nearly an impossible task. But the good news is: You can use PPC spy tools to help you reach your goal.

The Google AdWords competitor analysis is one of the most useful methods for creating successful PPC campaigns. By spying on your competitor's PPC campaigns, you can take the best bits of their campaigns and start building your own from there.

Stay with us, and we'll explain how everything works, what tools you should use, and how to extract the right key information you can use in your campaigns.

Five reasons why you need to do PPC Competitor Analysis

With PPC competitor analysis, you can spy on competitor's ads and see what they did to get more traffic, increase conversions, and set up successful PPC campaigns.

Here's a quick overview of all benefits you can get by using PPC spy tools to spy on your competition.

Find Unknown Competitors

Google Adwords currently earns almost 80% of all search and revenues in the US, making it a perfect method of getting you some vital information about your campaigns. There's no other method that can give you such accurate information about what your competitors are doing.

If you know who your competitors are, you can check what keywords they bid on and what they do to run successful PPC campaigns. Here's a quick overview of the process:

  • Open your AdWords account and find the "Auction Insights" report on the dashboard.
  • You will get a list of all competitors bidding on the same keywords as you. The information will tell you how many competitors you have and how much money they spend on PPC campaigns.
  • Focus on Impression share, as it will tell you how many impressions you have compared to your competition. The idea is to increase your impression share until you're right there with the most significant
  • You can then filter the data according to your campaigns and download the results to your device. Use the extracted data in your future campaigns for a better ranking.

Spy on Competitor's Best Keywords

There are many different PPC spy tools you can use to find competitors' keywords. The best options are SEMRush and SpyFu. These tools will give you all the information you need, so you won't have to extract results manually. Download any of these programs and start finding the keywords you need.

SpyFu, for example, offers a history feature that allows you to see all of the keywords a competitor used over time. The tool also allows you to see competitors' previous ads, how they performed, the current profitability of all keywords used, and the overall time spent using AdWords.

That's very important as you will compare the current PPC campaigns with the previous ones and understand what changes were made to improve traffic.

Even if a competitor you're checking spent thousands of dollars on campaigns, and even if you can't invest that much, don't worry. The goal is to see what's working and build your campaign according to your budget. Understanding the trends and why some keywords outperform others by spying on competitors can give you valuable insights you can use in your ad campaigns. It's that simple.

Utilise the Competitor's Creative Ideas

If you're struggling to come up with a successful ad campaign, your competitor's ideas will help you make a good starting point. PPC spy tools can help you get your creative juices flowing, and there's nothing wrong about using someone else's ideas to promote your services and products.

Creating a campaign from scratch is very hard, and most business owners don't have the time to devise unique ads. The simpler way of doing things is adapting ideas from your competitors and improving them with your own offers.

Since you already know that their ideas work, you will save time, since you'll only need to repackage their idea. Always make sure to see competitor ads before running your campaigns to maximise the chances for success. Their ads history will give you an even better idea of what elements to use to get the best results.

Getting to pick or create the perfect landing page from the get go

The best AdWords spy tool can also help you see what your competitor's landing pages do to stay competitive. That includes all changes they made, their recent updates, and multiple versions during the A/B testing phase. A simple tool called ISpionage is all you need to extract this information. You can even set it to notify you every time a competitor makes a change.

That way, you will be the first to see what elements your competitors are changing in real-time. You can use the methods that helped them to drive traffic to their landing page and implement it on your website. Other tools can help you analyse each element and see how it affects the conversion rates. Even if their moves aren't that successful, you will at least know what not to do in the future.

Remember that you don't want to copy your competitor's website, rather build on their ideas. Think of it as a jumpstart to your PPC campaigns and a way to surpass your Google AdWords competition on their terms.

Tracking day-to-day tactics

Today's markets are highly competitive, so knowing what your competitors’ ads are doing and when they are doing it will give you an edge over their offers. You must do everything you can to stay one step in front of other companies by learning what changes they make in real-time.

By running continual Google AdWords competitor analysis using the best PPC tracking software, you will know what changes your competitors are doing with their ads. You should know whenever a significant change is made, especially if it helped your competitors increase their ad position.

The faster you pinpoint the changes, the easier it will be to plan your future moves and devise new counteroffers. As we said, the markets are unforgiving, and these are the rules of the game.

Questions to ask while analysing competition

When you get a better insight into what your competitors are doing with their ad campaigns, you should ask yourself a few questions to fully understand what's going on. PPC spying is useless if you can't understand how some changes affect overall results. Here's a list of questions you should always ask to get the most out of PPC spy tool reports.

Questions while analysing ads

  • What is the total number of ads they are running?
  • How quickly do they react to changes you make in your ad copy?
  • How often do they add new ads to the rotation?

These three questions will tell you more about what your competitors are doing, and whether they use the same tools as you to spy on your ad campaigns. If they make similar changes to yours a few days after you do something, you will know that they are spying on you. On the other hand, you can spy on them and see how many ads they place and how often.

Questions while analysing landing pages

  • How many different versions of landing pages do your competitors use?
  • What types of calls to action and offers they use to attract more visitors?
  • How often do they add new elements to landing pages?
  • Are their SEO efforts up to date across their landing page and other website pages?

A/B testing is critical if you want to find the landing page version that provides the best results. A complete PPC competitor’s analysis can help you understand what exactly they are doing to increase conversions. Is it their SEO? Is it the information they provide on the landing page? Is it because of the CTA they use? It might seem unimportant, but all of these small elements can make a huge difference, so make sure you focus on every little detail.

Questions while analysing tracking

  • What is your competition tracking more? Clicks, keywords, or ads?
  • What analytics tools do they use to extract information?

Understanding which elements your competition focuses on can also give you a better idea of the results they expect to get. The tools they use to analyse their ad campaigns can further help you understand what they want to achieve.

All of the questions above are just a starting point that will help you evaluate your competitors and better understand what they are willing to do to stay relevant. Knowing their tactics will allow you to prepare your counterattack and ensure that they don't get any breathing room.

As you keep repeating the same process regularly, you will get a better understanding of how everything works, and you will also find yourself asking more complex questions. With a few months of practice, you will be able to predict the trends and what your competition is doing, and create even more successful campaigns in the future.

Best PPC Spy Tools

There are dozens of useful tools you can use to see competitor ads. Let's take a look at the best tools you can use to spy on your competition and always know exactly what's going on to be able to plan your future ad campaigns in the best possible way.

Search ad tools

Here is a list of best PPC keyword tools you can use to spy on your competitor's ads:

Google ads competitor analysis

Your Google Ads account can provide you with a lot of useful information to improve your campaigns. The tool will provide you with many different reports, and one of them is called "Auction Insights." This report will give you a list of all domains that are bidding on the same keywords as you.

The original report will show you a list of competitors, and you can perform more detailed research from there. You can spy on local competitors or from all over the country. If you decide on the latter option, you won't be able to see all of the competitors in the "Auction Insights" report.

With Google Ads, the activation process is free, and with their pay-per-click model, users can bid on keywords. You only have to pay for each click. If nobody clicks, you don’t have to pay anything.

Google search operators

Google search operators

GSO is a tool that can help you analyse content in Google Search. It's a tool with a different approach to keyword research. Instead of providing you with accurate results based on the keywords you want, it uses modifiers, known as search operators, to provide you with the most relevant and accurate results.

You can use it to check details like backlinks, pdf files, and many other details your competitors use to improve traffic. The tool is free. GSO will help you find results that would not appear in the normal search making it a perfect tool for content research and technical SEO audits.

SpyFu

SpyFu is one of the best tools you can use to spy on competitors’ ads. It's also one of the simplest options on the market, making it a perfect choice for beginners.

All you have to do is to provide your competitor's website URL in the required box, and you will get access to all kinds of information about their ad campaigns. That includes cost per click, a list of keywords used, and the monthly cost of each campaign.

The information will help you figure out which keywords are worth investing in, and what you have to do to surpass your competitors.

The Adwords history feature will tell you everything about the competitor brand's history, allowing you to understand how they started their campaigns, which elements they used, how they changed over time, and why the changes improved conversion rates while lowering the overall pay per click costs. The Basic Plan will set you back $39 per month, the Professional Plan will cost $78 per month, and the Team Plan is $299 per month.

SEMRush

Competitor analysis tool SEMRush

Another highly capable tool for spying on competitor's PPC is called SEMrush. It's a complete spy tool that provides detailed reports that can tell you everything you need to know about your competitors and how it can help your PPC strategies.

That includes data like which organic keywords they use, how they distribute them based on ranking, a map of their positions, search traffic based on their brand, backlinks, landing pages, referring domains, and so on. You can try the tool for free, and after the trial, the price varies from $99 to $399 per month, depending on the plan you purchase.

Serpstat

Google ads competitor analysis tool serpstat

Serpstat is one of the best keyword research tools because it combines organic and paid research in one useful report. It can help you understand your Google Ads competitors better by providing you specific information about their PPC campaigns.

That includes the CPC, a list of related keywords, and an ongoing competitor tracking that generates keyword maps. Depending on the plan you choose, Serpstat will cost you between $69 and $499 per month.

Google ads competitor analysis SERanking

SERanking is one of the best tools for PPC spying. It's got a clean, easy-to-use interface that enables you to see which keywords your competitors use in their ad campaigns. Moreover, the tool will also help you see how their ads look, their total number of clicks, and a list of keywords they bid in Google Ads.

Other features include competitive data such as traffic volume, traffic cost, CPC, and so on. SE Ranking is available in a few different plans, with prices ranging between $31 and $151 per month.

Display ad tools

Moat ad search

Display ad competitor tool Moat ad search

Think of Moat ad search as a search engine only for display ads. It's a handy tool that allows you to see just how creative your competition is with their ads. You use it the same way you would use any other search engine out there.

Just type in the name of the brand you want to spy on, and voila - you will get a list of display ads in the results. From there, you can get more details like the time and date when the ad was active. Moat is free for everyone.

WhatRunsWhere

WhatRunsWhere is another very simple tool that can provide you with important information about your competitors. Instead of typing a brand name in the search box, just paste a website domain and run the search.

PPC analysis tool what runs where

The results it provides will tell you more about the individual target placements, a list of traffic sources, and a few best-performing images they use. In other words, you will be able to track the source of all traffic beyond Google Ads. The basic plan will cost you $299 per month, while the Full Coverage plan will set you back for $399.

AdBeat

PPC competitor analysis adbeat

AdBeat is the perfect tool for finding out how much other businesses spend on multiple media buying platforms. With a beautiful interface and easy-to-use features, you will be able to compare your spending with your competitors. When combined with WhatRunsWhere, you will know what to change to make your campaigns more affordable. The Standard Plan is $249/month, the Advanced Plan $399/month, and you will have to call them for the Enterprise Plan.

Mixrank

Mixrank

If you sell apps, MixRank is a must. The tool can help you check how an app works on different operating systems and devices. You can also use it to pinpoint leads, allowing you to see if your competitors already reached out to the same people. Knowing who your competitors are targeting can help you generate valuable leads before they do. Contact the developers and ask for the price.

Social ad tools

TrackMaven (Skyword)

PPC Competitor Analysis TrackMaven

Knowing if your content performs as expected is an essential step in your ad campaign success. Nothing can help you do that better than TrackMaven (which joined Skyword in 2018). This tool enables you to see how your competitor's content performs on multiple social networks.

The reports will tell you exactly how many shares, backlinks, and leads their content generated, allowing you to use similar tricks to improve your own PPC channels. Contact the vendor to check the price.

SimplyMeasured (Sprout Social)

PPC competitor analysis tool SimplyMeasured

SimplyMeasured (which was acquired by Sprout Social) is another popular Google Ads competitor spy tool that focuses on organic search. It's also ideal for spying on PPC campaigns as it can analyse paid and organic reach for Facebook pages.

The reports will tell you specific engagement for regular ads, sponsored stories, and mobile ads. In other words, you will know where your competitors focus their Facebook ads and which campaigns provide the best results. The starting price for SimplyMeasured is $500 a month.

SocialBaker

PPC Competitor Analysis Tool SocialBaker

SocialBaker is a complete solution for finding out what your competitors are doing on social media. It allows you to check what the community thinks about your competitors. You can track your competitor's content, uncover critical trends, and see how their organic and paid ads are doing at any time. SocialBaker is available for $200 per month.

Google ads competitor analysis tool AdEspresso

A big part of PPC traffic comes from popular social media channels. Businesses from all over the world use social media to drive traffic to their websites. The ever-growing competition makes it harder to drive traffic and increase conversions, and that's where AdEspresso can help.

It's an automated tool that allows you to measure your ad campaigns on social media and see what your competitors are doing. The reports provide you with useful information about ad engagement, allowing you to change the features that don't generate the results you expect. AdEspresso is available from $49 to $259 per month.

Landing page tool

iSpionage

Google ads competitor analysis tool iSpionage

Paid ad campaigns are the most competitive part of all lead generation techniques. It requires you to compete on two fronts at the same time. That's where iSpionage comes into play.

It's a tool that allows you to find which keywords your competitors use to drive traffic, as well as how much they spend on each PPC campaign. The data you extract can help you understand how to increase conversion rates while keeping the costs as low as possible.

The software also enables you to scan the competitor's ad copy and pinpoint the keywords that trigger ads. If it's working for others, it will work for you too. Once you find the trends, you will improve your campaigns and get better results.

Others

Lastly, here are a few other tools that can help you improve your ad campaigns:

BuzzSumo (for content)

PPC competitor analysis tool BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is one of the basic tools you can use to figure out what content your competitors are using to drive traffic. It can analyse website content and help you improve your own. That includes the use of backlinks, the number of shares, and so on.

With a detailed history of linking and sharing, this tool can help you improve your content to get an edge over the competition. BuzzSumo Pro is available for $99 per month, while the Plus plan costs $179, and the Large plan costs $299.

Builtwith (technology profile)

PPC competitor analysis tool BuiltWith

Just like you, your competitors will use everything they can to stay on top of the game. Did you know that there is a tool that can tell you what tools your competitors use to spy on others? Using better tools usually means that you'll get an edge over the competition, which is why you should use BuiltWith.

It's an advanced tool that tells you exactly what technologies your competitors use to stay relevant. It will tell you what hosting providers they use, what advertising and analytics tools they use, as well as which systems they use to manage content and email marketing. That will give you a few good ideas for your own campaigns. BuiltWith is available in a few different plans, with prices ranging between $295 and $995 per month.

Drilling Down and Using Competitor Data

All of the tools in the list above can help you find out methods and ideas used by competitors to improve their PPC campaigns. Once you analyse all of the results, you will be able to create a list of factors you have to work on to improve your PPC performance.

PPC keyword spying tools will give you a list of keywords used by your competitors. You can then extract all of the keywords into an excel file and use them to improve campaigns.

Then, use the display spying tools to see what content works best for increasing conversions. Once you understand how both of these elements work, you can compare your PPC keywords and placements with your competitors. Make sure to place all elements in their own Excel files and then copy them together in a new file.

Use the "Remove Duplicates" feature within the Excel sheet, and you will be left with only those keywords and placements that are not used at the moment. Then, include those elements into your PPC campaigns and landing pages, and you will be able to increase conversion quickly.

Preventing Your PPC Competitors From Spying On You

Like it or not, your competitors will use the same tricks as you do. They will want to know if there is a way to see if a business is using Google Ads, what type of keywords you use, and how your content helps your PPC campaigns.

If you don't do anything to hide your activities, your competitors will be able to use the same methods as you and ruin your plans in no time. However, you can do a few things to make it much harder for them to copy your methods.

Exclude Competitor Office Locations

After you are 100% sure that your competitors are using spying tools to see what you're doing, you can block your competitors from ever running into your ads. Find where their office is located in the city and make a geographic exclusion for that part of the city. That way, your competitors won't be able to find your ads from their offices.

Exclude Competitor IP Addresses

There's a tool called Snitcher, and as its name already suggests, it can help you see which companies visited your website, how long they were there, and what pages they opened while browsing.

If they do it repeatedly, you will get a better idea of where exactly they are logging on from. When you finally pinpoint their IP addresses, you can block them within AdWords and prevent them from finding your ads again.

Conclusion

Spying on competitors’ ads is the key to success. This practice will give you a good starting point for creating high-quality PPC campaigns, as you won't have to start from scratch. Why would you learn from your mistakes when you can do the same from the mistakes made by other businesses?

Not only is it time-consuming, but it is also a costly process, so you must use everything you can to get an edge over the competition.

Use their mistakes to reverse engineer your PPC campaigns and get better conversions rates right away. If you find the process too complicated, contact Heroes of Digital - we have already helped thousands of businesses create their own footprint on the market and generate leads and revenue using the best SEM/PPC techniques.

Xavier Tan
Co-Founder
Xavier is the Co-Founder of Heroes of Digital. He started social media marketing and SEM long before it became popular in Singapore. His passion is in helping businesses grow through effective lead generation. He has overseen campaigns for Amara Hotel, NTU, Marina Bay, L'Oreal, and 100+ SMEs.

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