Read competitors plays on Facebook like an open book

This weeks post will be of particular interest to anyone with a Facebook Page in Canada, and especially those who boost content or place ads on the platform. But even if you’re NOT in Canada, this is still of great interest since the pilot feature, only available only in Canada right now, will be rolled out globally later in 2018. You can get the inside edge NOW.

In November, Facebook implemented a feature that shows how advertisers are targeting their messages. It goes far beyond the little right hand pull down tab to be able to click on sponsored posts to see “Why am I seeing this ad?” That would allow you to see some of the parameters for ad selection. Now (at least in Canada for the time being) any ad purchased on Facebook must be associated with a Facebook page (most companies and brands already use pages to post content and interact with customers), and a new tab appearing on every page will let anyone see what ads that organization has purchased and how they have been targeted. Before the change, people saw ads on Facebook only when they were part of the targeted audience. While Canada is a test for the new feature, it will expand to other countries, including the United States by summer 2018.


The move by Facebook is in response to increased demands for transparency, in particular with political advertising and the accusations of Russian influence in the last US election.

Here’s a visual on the “ads” preview button. I simply checked out a sponsored post in my feed from Destination BC, visited their Facebook page, and then check to see what ads and paid sponsored content they were currently running. Indeed, the results showed the ad I had seen, but several more that were not in my feed. I was then able to check out how these different pieces of content and ads had been targeted. Link HERE for more details on how this works.


I can hear you now, “That’s cool Mary, but why should I care?” As a consumer, this transparency is welcome, but I agree, not everyone will want to know or care. And it should in theory hold Facebook more accountable for its powerful influence as a media vehicle that people now rely on for information (for better or worse on that one, but I’m only stating the facts here!) Where the real opportunity lies is in competitive intelligence…

The competitive playbook is now open in Canada for any brands or companies that want to see what their competitors are doing.

That is incredibly powerful stuff. But of course it also works in reverse. Your secret sauce for audience selection and split testing of creative is also open season. So far I’ve been using this feature to do a little checking out of competitors for clients, but it has also made me incredibly mindful of what we do on the platform as a result.

I guess what this means to you if you are outside Canada, is to prepare for this feature coming your way soon. Since Facebook is based in the US you can count on the feature being in place before the run up to the US primaries in November 2018. By that stage, it will have rolled out worldwide.

What do you think? Is this a welcome feature? Will it change in any way how your approach Facebook content promotion? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Mary Charleson

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