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How to Spy on Google Ads Competitors

how to spy on google ads

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Digital advertising is always evolving. However, there’s one thing that never changes – competition. If you’re looking to keep your business thriving and relevant, it’s critical to discover fresh approaches to distinguishing yourself from the rest of the pack. Fail at this and you run the risk of becoming overlooked in a crowded marketplace. 

Fortunately, success isn’t too far away with access to proper tools and an effective strategy! Google Ads (formerly known as Adwords) provides those very services needed in order to stay ahead in today’s ever-changing digital space. Here’s how to spy on Google Ads competitors.

Why Google Ads is King

Google Ads has demonstrated itself invaluable, granting companies across the globe access to their target market.

Google’s estimated net U.S digital ad revenue is projected to suffer a 5.3% decline this year, due to the pandemic downturn; yet eMarketer estimates that post-pandemic it will make an astonishing comeback with a 20.9 % growth rate in 2021 and reaching $47.85 billion!

With the power of Google Ads, you can not only drive ready-to-buy customers to your website but also stay informed about what your competition is up to. It might feel like a daunting task, but with this powerful tool, it’s easier than ever!

Exploring your competitors’ Google Ads strategies is a crucial step for any business, as it can provide invaluable insights into boosting the effectiveness and ROI of your own marketing campaigns.


2 reasons why competitor research matters

It can help:

  1. Figure out the right content marketing formula.

Regardless of the field you’re in, chances are you aren’t the first-comer. In truth, those at the top have likely failed multiple times along their journey to success – proving that nothing worth having is easy.

With this, you can spare yourself the time, money, and stress that is commonly associated with starting a business.

More importantly, it can assist you in discovering an effective strategy to rapidly expand your online venture!

  1. You can seek and explore new competitors in the market.

Ads let you analyze the collective behavior of your rivals. With the correct tools, you can recognize precisely who is vying with you for customers.

Even if this information isn’t new to you, mining it will provide interesting intelligence about your competitors – like novel keywords and auction stats that are indispensable in boosting success rates. 

Competitor insights to look for

Fortunately, on Google Ads, your competitors are extremely transparent. Business owners often have the instinctive desire to figure out a solution to get their advertisements ahead of their rivals.

However, since there isn’t an easy way to determine if opponents’ campaigns generate profits or not, this might not be the wisest plan of action.

If you’re looking to increase your online presence by outranking your competitors, gathering information is the best place to start. How much money are they spending? What keywords do their advertisements focus on?

Let’s investigate what strategies have enabled them to reach success and discover how we can surpass them!


Who is using Google Ads?

To get an insight into what your rivals are doing on Google Ads, start by uncovering who is advertising with them. You can quickly do this simply by searching a few key terms and seeing which advertisers surface as a result.

It is crucial to understand, however, that this approach does not give you an accurate picture of the entire field.

Your competitors may have modified their ads so they only display during particular times or used up all of their advertising budgets for the day.

Furthermore, since results are contingent on your web browser’s location and language settings, some rivals’ advertisements might not show at all.


PPC tools to help you spy on competitors

Before we delve into the details, let’s look at some of the best Google Adwords spy tools available to give you a competitive edge.

1. Auction Insights via Google Ads Campaign

With the Auction Insights Tool, you can have a bird’s eye view of what other domains are participating in the same Google ad auctions at different levels – campaign, ad group, and keyword. Furthermore, it will help you gain insights into how your ads perform relative to rival advertisers.

2. SimilarWeb

With SimilarWeb, you can see your competitor’s monthly visitation rate, discover which channels are driving the most visitors to their site, and pinpoint where these individuals are coming from.

3. Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a powerful tool for all your competitor research needs. Quickly uncover top pages, IPs, and external links about competitors in one simple search. Ahrefs also gives you the edge when it comes to researching keywords for successful ad campaigns – making it an indispensable part of any analysis process!

4. SEMRush

With SEMRush, you have a tool at your disposal that allows you to get comprehensive data on the performance of your competitors. This includes not only their ad keywords but also exact metrics outlining how much traffic they’re getting!

5. iSpionage

iSpionage is a highly useful keyword-monitoring tool that can help you stay ahead of the competition. By simply typing in your competitors’ names, this powerful platform provides invaluable insight into their high-performing organic and PPC keywords on both Google and Bing.

Plus, you’ll be able to see how much they’re spending on paid campaigns – information essential for maximizing conversions while minimizing costs!

6. SpyFu

SpyFu is a powerful and user-friendly tool that will provide you with valuable insights into your competitor’s top-paid keywords, the associated CPC (cost per click), as well as their total monthly cost. By understanding where your competitors are investing their resources in terms of digital marketing, you can make informed decisions about which keywords to pursue for yourself.

Using Google Ad Auction Insights

Make the most of your Google Ads campaigns with the Google Ads Auction Insights report. This invaluable resource offers you a comprehensive analysis at the account, campaign, or ad group level and can help to give you an edge over competitors in terms of performance metrics. Get all the data-driven insights that will take your marketing strategy up a notch!

By accessing your active ads campaigns and clicking into the ‘Auction Insight’ tab, you can access a wealth of data at your fingertips. Just select ‘All,’ and voila! You have everything that you need to understand how well certain keywords or search terms are performing in auctions.

You can find out these things about your competitors:

  • Average ad position
  • Impression share
  • Quality Score
  • Overlap rate
  • Position-above rate

This straightforward report will provide you with clear data points so that you can ascertain where to prudently reduce your activity and where more aggressive action is needed.

With this information, it’ll be effortless for you to make informed decisions.


How are your keywords performing?

With the Auction Insights report, you can check how your performance is for a keyword. For instance, if there are keywords with high CPA (cost per action), you could reduce it by lowering the bids due to lesser competition and seeing good results!

Additionally, using various metrics such as quality score or bidding strategy will help in recognizing patterns that would further improve the optimization of campaigns.

What are your competitors’ top keywords?

If you’re ready to gain an edge over the competition, it’s time to dive deeper and uncover Google Ads key terms that your competitors are targeting. Ahrefs and SEMRush have proven to be excellent resources for keyword research – use them today.

Not only do both tools provide a complete summary of the keywords, their monthly search amounts, and approximated CPCs; but they also offer traffic % and cost % which allows you to effortlessly zero in on the most important phrases.

With iSpionage, you can quickly uncover beneficial keywords that your competitors are using to succeed. Also, if you’re curious about how much they’re investing in their PPC campaigns, this tool will provide all the data you need!

Best tips for Google Ads competitor analysis

With all the advantages of spying on competitors, let’s discuss strategies to do it efficiently.

The good news is it’s fairly simple and pretty much anyone can be successful. And you can find lots of actionable information if you know where to look.

1. Search for your main keywords

Everyone in the SEO world is familiar with why discovering the right keywords is essential.

A suitable mixture of keywords can make or break your marketing campaign, yet so many entrepreneurs are content using outdated words, making it hard to stand out from other businesses.

Finding excellent and original terms that haven’t been exploited by rivals proves to be an intimidating task – but one that comes with great rewards when done correctly.

The first step? Uncover your core keywords and observe who is appearing close to your ads.

This is just the beginning; you’re simply trying to discern who your competition may be.

After you’ve identified your target audience, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of how to reach them using more advanced tools.

2. Use Auction Insights

Are you aware of the resourceful information that Google Ads can offer about your competitors’ campaigns? Auction Insights, in particular, has been an invaluable asset for me.

You get to decide if you’d like to view the reports on an ad group, campaign, or single keyword level.

Auction Insights not only provides you with exceptional insight into your competitor’s rankings but also the motives behind it—all without relying on any external tools.

In a nutshell, this platform gives you the opportunity to observe what your rivals are doing in an up close and personal manner.

3. Use SEMrush to Compare the Competition

If you are looking to gain a competitive edge, investing in SEMrush is the way forward. It provides an array of powerful tools that allow for detailed analysis and invaluable insights into your competition.

With SEMrush, you can arm yourself with the data necessary to make informed decisions about how best to move forward.

You can:

  • Uncover emerging organic competitors and stay ahead of the competition.
  • Identify which keywords have yielded success for them.
  • Reveal the hidden keywords that could be making a difference in your success!

 You can stay ahead of the competition by keeping track of all your relevant keywords with real-time updates on their organic search results.


In conclusion, these tools can provide you with a competitive advantage to become one of the top players: they enable you to recognize your competitors and research their past campaigns; gather all essential information on keywords that are being used; analyze the data collected in order to generate an excellent strategy. By unifying these effective tools, you will be able to stay ahead of others and maintain this status quo. Hopefully, now you know how to spy on Google Ads competitors the right way.

Rob Warner
Rob Warner

Rob Warner is a numbers man turned marketing geek. Rob walked away from a successful career in business finance to fulfill his ambition to be a professional marketer. He went from learning the fundamentals of Google advertising to now being a member of the Google Partners Executive Council and with a worldwide team managing over $20 billion of advertising spend a year on behalf of the marketing agencies and their clients. Rob started his own agency in 2012, having already acquired a client base with no larger marketing strategy than just word of mouth.

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