Relying on manual ad spying techniques can be time-consuming, inefficient, and inaccurate. That being said, some of the leading Ad Spy Tools are not necessarily the most reliable or give you the largest edge when running successful ads.
That's why we've compiled a list of 10 ad research tools that you can use to gather valuable insights into your competitor's advertising strategies.
These tools can help you uncover their ad copy, targeting, and budget, giving you a competitive edge.
So, let's dive in and explore these Ad Spy alternatives that are worth trying in 2023 along with some 100% free ad spy options.
What is an Ad Spy Tool?
Although various ad spy tools come packed with different functions and features, they all have one core simple user case... allow you to see what ads your competitors are running.
From there, you can track their ads, uncover their targeting strategies, and analyze their ad performance metrics.
How do websites like AdSpy work?
Ad spy tools use various methods like ad scraping, API integration, user panels, and keyword research to mine target audience and collect data on competitors' ad campaigns.
- Ad Scraping: Ad spy tools can use web crawlers or bots to scrape ads from various websites, including social media platforms and search engines. These tools can collect data on the ad creatives, ad copy, targeting, and other metrics, then organize this data into a database you can search and analyze.
- API Integration: Some ad spy tools integrate with ad networks and other advertising platforms via API, which allows them to access data on the ads being run by your competitors. This data can include information on ad spend, targeting, and ad performance metrics.
- User Panels: Some ad spy tools use panels of real users who agree to install software on their devices that track the ads they see online. This allows the ad spy tool to gather data on your competitors' ads and the audiences they are targeting.
Benefits of Ad Spy Tools
Spy on Successful Ad Campaigns
The most valuable way to use ad research tools is to spy on successful ad campaigns in your industry. By analyzing the strategies of top-performing ads, you can gain insights into what makes them successful and adapt these strategies to your own campaigns.
Get Creative Ad Inspiration
We have all been there - testing different funnels running ads and offers, all heading toward running dry on ad ideas. One reason we used to use ad spy tools before building foreplay.co was to give us a steady stream of ad examples to create and inspire our creative campaigns.
Competitor Research & Insights
Competitor research is an essential part of any successful advertising campaign. By analyzing your competitors' ad strategies, you can gain valuable insights into what works in your industry and adapt your own approach accordingly.
With the help of an ad spy or ad research tool, you can easily access a wealth of information about your competitors' ad campaigns.
These tools allow you to track their ad spend, ad copy, targeting, and even the creatives they use.
Discover Hidden Campaigns
Ad spying tools can also help you discover hidden campaigns your competitors run. These campaigns may not be visible on their website, landing page or social media profiles but could still drive valuable traffic and conversions.
Ad Spy Drawbacks & Concerns
Unreliable Data & Metrics
While ad spy tools can provide valuable insights into your competitors' ad campaigns, the data and metrics they provide may not always be accurate.
For example, some tools may not be able to distinguish between ads that are running as part of a test or a limited-time promotion and those that are part of a long-term strategy.
Additionally, some other spy tools may rely on user-generated data, which can be subject to bias or inaccuracy.
Flooded with low-quality ads
Some ad spy tools may be flooded with low-quality or irrelevant ads, making it difficult to filter ads or find high-quality ad creative for companies that care about design and branding.
For example, if you search for ads in a particular industry or target a specific audience, you may have to sift through a swath of unrelated ads to find what you're looking for.
Limited Searches Across Ad Placements
Ad spy tools often limit the number of monthly searches that users can perform. If you exceed these allowances, the ads spy tool may charge you more every month, which can be a negative for those on a tight budget.
Additionally, some tools may restrict the number of ad placements you can search across, limiting your ability to gather comprehensive data on your competitors' ad strategies. It's essential to keep these limitations in mind when choosing an ad spy tool and to ensure that you stay within your monthly search allowances to avoid incurring additional charges.
Top 7 Paid AdSpy Alternatives: Summary & Price
1. Inspiration Library by Foreplay (Free)
The Inspiration Library by Foreplay is one of the best ad spy alternatives and takes the most unique approach to an ad spy platform.
Thanks to our Swipe File tool, Foreplay is the most extensive curated ads library in the world, meaning that all the data in our platform was saved by world-class creative strategists and media buyers, NOT bots and ad scrapers. Most users claim it is the fastest way to discover the best ads without extensive searching.
The best part about using Foreplay is that you can get full access the Inspiration Library is 100% free to use forever. Beyond the ad spying functionality of the platform, you can leverage paid tools, including Swipe File and AI Briefs.
- AI Enriched Search
- Advanced Filters
- Specific Niche Filters
- Favorite brands list tracking
- Save ads (If paired with Swipe File product)
Bonus Feature: Foreplay Experts
Because foreplay is used by leading performance marketers & creative strategists, they grant you access to the brightest minds in advertising through their public swipe files. You can browse all experts here.
Benefits of using Foreplay: Top-tier and high-quality ads, 24/7 customer support, Ads from Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn.
Drawbacks of using Foreplay: Lack of performance metrics.
Use the Inspiration Library Free Forever
Adplexity is a powerful ad intelligence tool that easily tracks your competitor's Facebook Ads. With over 75 countries covered, and a monthly membership fee of $249, you get access to multiple ad categories, including mobile, eCommerce, desktop, and native, among others.
One of the critical features of Adplexity is its wide selection of filter options that enable you to narrow down your own search results and focus on specific ad types. It also offers real-time data on running campaigns, giving you the ability to monitor your competitors' activities and adjust your own campaigns accordingly.
Adplexity is compatible with a wide range of mediums, including mobile and desktop, making it easy for you to access the data you need from any device.
With its powerful features and comprehensive coverage, Adplexity is a valuable and powerful tool for any marketer looking to gain a competitive edge in their industry.
Benefits of Adplexity: Good user interface, the inclusion of mobile app platforms.
Drawbacks of Adplexity: No free-trial, higher-end pricing, and when reading online reviews, their customer service can be slow to deliver answers.
3. Social Ad Scout
Social Ad Scout is an invaluable ad research and spying tool that enables brands to stay ahead of the competition on social media. With different payment plans, including monthly, semi-annual, and annual at $147, $127, and $97, respectively, Social Ad Scout offers a comprehensive suite of features.
One of its most powerful features is its detailed search filters that enable you to search for ads using keywords, demographics, location, and time running ads only. With these filters, you can easily find the exact ads you need and stay up-to-date with the latest ad strategies in your industry.
Social Ad Scout is compatible with multiple devices, including desktops and mobile phones, making accessing your data from anywhere easy.
Benefits of Social Ad Scout: Save favorite ads for later, download original mp4 or png files.
Drawbacks of Social Ad Scout: Similar to others on this list, they have a sub-par customer support team and only include ads from 21 countries.
PipiAds is a cutting-edge ad spy tool that has quickly risen to become the market's largest and most comprehensive TikTok research tool. With PipiAds, you can track international short-form video eCommerce ads, games, and new game ads, among others, giving you valuable insights into the latest trends in your industry.
PipiAds offers a free trial that lets you test the app's powerful features before committing to a payment plan. It also has paid plan that offers flexible payment options, including a premium plan that starts at just €29.90 per month and a business plan of €249.90 per month, ensuring that you can choose the plan that best suits your needs and budget.
With PipiAds, you can access a wealth of data on your competitors' ad strategies and optimize your own campaigns for maximum impact. It's the perfect tool for any marketer looking to gain a competitive edge on TikTok and stay ahead of the game.
Benefits of Pipi Ads: Easily search any brand's social media ads, custom support on free plan higher-level plans, and offer a free trial.
Drawbacks of PipiAds: Pricing can be a hurdle for some junior marketers and does not include much support for other platforms, such as google ads or other search ads.
Dropispy is a must-have tool for drop shippers and online retailers looking to gain an edge in their industry. With over 40 million ads from social networks like Facebook, you can stay up-to-date with the latest ad strategies and adapt your campaigns accordingly.
The tool provides real-time information on your competitors' ad engagements, including social shares, ad comments made, and likes. This enables you to monitor the performance of your competitors' ads and identify opportunities to improve your campaigns.
Dropispy offers both a free and a payment plan of 14.90 Euros per month, making it accessible to businesses of all sizes. With its comprehensive coverage and powerful features, Dropispy is the ultimate tool for anyone or business looking to optimize their advertising strategies and stay ahead of the competition.
Benefits of Dropispy: Detailed advertising metadata, including shares, likes, and comments.
Drawbacks of Dropispy: The whole product is unavailable in their free trial and lacks data from the entire Shopify ecosystem.
6. Power Ad Spy
PowerAdSpy is a powerful ad monitoring and adspy tool that lives up to its name. With the top adspy tool and ability to track ads on platforms like YouTube, Google, GDN, Instagram, and Facebook, you can gain valuable insights into your competitors' ad strategies.
One unique feature of PowerAdSpy is its ability to track competitor ads on the Shopify eCommerce platform, giving you even more coverage of competitor ads and insights into your competitors' ad strategies.
The tool also allows you to top search results for ads using niche keywords, competitor domains, and advertiser names, giving you the ability to hone in on the ads that matter most to your online business only.
Benefits of Power Ads Spy: Powerful search engine, includes multiple ad types (video, image etc), good customer support, and live chat.
Drawbacks of Power Ads Spy: Limited integrations and plans can be expensive
7. Big Spy
BigSpy is an ad spying tool that enables you to stay ahead of the competition on multiple social networks, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. With over 3 million global users, it boasts the largest ads database in the industry.
Beyond just PPC ads, BigSpy can also help you spy on your competitors' affiliate marketers, giving you valuable insights into what the and what's not in your industry.
The tool offers four membership plans to suit your needs and budget, ranging from the free plan to the Elite Plan, which offers the tool works most powerful features and benefits.
With multi-platform ad compatibility across social networks and search engines like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Yahoo, a powerful search tool, and the ability to track your performance curve.
BigSpy is a must-have tool for any marketer looking to optimize their advertising strategies and stay ahead of the game.
Other Free Ad Spy Tools & Alternatives
In addition to platforms like Inspiration Library by foreplay - there are a few other free tools that I keep bookmarked and used to help your ad spy and competitor research efforts.
Using Facebook Ad Library as a Facebook ads spy tool
If Meta is your digital marketing platform of choice, I am sure you are asking, "How can I spy on Facebook ads for free?" Facebook itself builds the answer, it is the Facebook Ad Library.
This website allows you to search for any brand and see every ad they are running. If you are looking to use the Facebook Ad Library like a pro, we wrote a complete guide on how to use Facebook Ad Library in 2023.
TikTok Creative Centre
The TikTok Creative Center is a platform that provides tools and resources to help brands and creators produce engaging content on TikTok. Specifically, if you are looking for an ad spy alternative, then the "TikTok Top Ads" section is where you want to look.
Using the Top Ads section, you can gain valuable insights into the latest trends and strategies in search ads in your industry and identify opportunities to improve your campaigns.
This feature is especially useful for businesses just starting and needing inspiration for their ad campaigns or those looking to stay ahead of the competition.
Common Questions about Ad Spy Platforms
- Q: How to spy on Facebook ad campaigns?
A: To spy on Facebook ad campaigns, you can use ad spy tools such as Facebook Ad Library, Foreplay or Power Ad Spy.
- Q: What spy tools can be used to analyze Facebook?
A: There are several spy tools available that can analyze Facebook ads, including AdEspresso, BigSpy, and PowerAdSpy.
- Q: How to spy on a competitor's Google ad words campaign?
A: You can spy on a competitor's Google AdWords campaign using spy tools like SpyFu, SEMrush, or KeywordSpy.
- Q: How to hide ads and landing pages from ad spy tools
A: To hide your ads and landing pages from ad spy tools, you can use a cloaking tool or set up redirects that lead to different pages.
- Q: How do ad spy tools get data?
A: Ad spy tools get their data from various sources, including ad networks, search engines, and web crawlers or an affiliate network.
- Q: How much does ad spy cost?
A: The cost of ad spy tools varies depending on the tool and the pricing plan you choose. Some tools offer free versions, while others require a subscription fee that can range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars per month.
- Q: Is there a free version of AdSpy?
A: AdSpy offers a free trial, but there is no permanent free version of the tool.
- Q: What is the best free alternative to AdSpy?
A: In our opinion, the best free alternative to ad spy is foreplay.co/
- Q: What are the best ad spy tools?
A: The best ad spy tools include AdSpy, SocialPeta, AdEspresso, PowerAdSpy, and SpyFu, among others.