What are Google Ads spy tools and why does your business need to use one to maximize your chances of success?
Forget any movie-inspired image of glamorous industrial espionage. Google Ads spy tools may not have the action and drama, but can be a lot more useful than having someone undercover. They take advantage of the fact that it’s not just the adverts that are openly visible, but also a huge amount of data about them and the sites they advertise. Combining all this makes it possible to form a good picture of how competitors are advertising, and how effective that advertising is.
Knowing how, where, and to whom your competitors are advertising gives you an edge, allowing you to pick where you try to compete, or identify new areas or keywords to use where you have the field to yourself. And, as you already know, when your adverts are successful, you are successful.
Benefits of using Google Ads spy tools
Ads do not exist in isolation, and this is especially true for online advertising. Google collects a huge amount of data that can help with ad targeting and the keywords are just one element. You might see your competitors’ ads alongside your own, but what about all the times you don’t? They might be targeting people in specific locations, or those using particular devices. They may have timed ads, or use demographic targeting, so you never see their ads.
It’s simply not possible to spy on competitors’ Google Ads using your own searches and intuition. But a spy tool can create a rich Google Ads competitor analysis that will help you improve your advertising’s effectiveness.
As a starting point, using Google Ads research tools for your own core keywords helps you see who you are up against, and what type of ads they are running. Are they appealing to your potential customers’ aspirations or their fears? Are they calling them to action, or simply raising awareness?
Analyzing their ads can be incredibly productive. You can see what keywords they are targeting, along with the traffic they generate and how much they are spending. And there’s a good chance they have already tested out other variations to find what works, so learning from them will save you a lot of trial and error, as well as a lot of expense.
But you can use it to go beyond the ads. You can see how their ad copy works, what is effective for them, how it works with their landing page funnels. In other words, you can start to understand their wider marketing strategies. If you can use the knowledge to build a more relevant, better, landing page, for your keywords, it might even help you out-rank them without spending a cent on ads.
Using spy tools helps you decide when and where to compete, and to pick the advertising battles you know you will win.
Shopspook is a Google Ads spy tool focused on shopping campaigns. If you and your competitors are using Google Shopping, it can provide deep intelligence on what they are doing and what is effective.
As a starting point, you’ll be able to analyze keywords, identifying which keywords a competitor domain is using more importantly, which competitors and merchants are dominating your keyword landscape so you can analyze and learn from them.
From there, you can delve deeper into the information gathered. You will gain an understanding of competior keywords, demographic audience, news, events and launches, as well as being about to assess other factors like landing page quality. In other words, a complete picture of any PLA competitors advertising and marketing funnel and assets.
And once you have a clear picture, you can develop and implement a strategy that improves on them all. Instead of trying to out-compete on the same ground, you can devise a campaign that finds your customers without engaging in a costly Google ads war.
Then, when your campaign is up and running, Shopspook’s ongoing analysis will make sure you always stay ahead of the competition. Rather than a one-off analysis, it will continue to spy on competitors’ Google Ads, constantly monitoring a constantly changing ads market to keep you always updated on your keyword landscape.
Semrush is an all-in-one tool that does almost everything. At its heart, it is a search engine optimization (SEO) tool, but includes other tools like social media and content auditing.
This huge range of tools makes it a popular option for agencies and large businesses. For those that need every tool, and for whom it might even be an integral part of their business, Semrush can be an essential tool. However, most businesses are likely to find it expensive and overpowered for their needs.
While it offers tools for Google Ads competitor analysis they come at a price, to get Google Shopping data you need their $449 per month business plan. Shopspook is just $9 per month.
SpyFu is less a Google display ads spy and more an archeologist. It promises to find your competitors’ ad variations, ranks, and every keyword they have purchased for the last fifteen years!
It offers a treasure trove of data on your competitors, so you can see not just what works for them, but what they’ve tried and failed. The sheer amount of information it uncovers makes it the most popular Google Ads spy tool for normal adds. It does not, however, provide product listing ads data.
Prices range from $33 to $199 per month (when bought annually) and, generously, all plans include full access to SpyFu data.
Ahrefs is another very popular service that promises an all-in-one solution to SEO, keyword and backlink research. Like Semrush, it is an SEO-first solution, making it useful if you need to work on your website to improve organic traffic as well as your ads.
Its biggest selling point, for many, is the development it offers. Alongside a range of training materials it promises will take you from beginner to expert, it also hosts a large and vibrant community.
Prices, when paid annually, range from $82 to $832 per month. However, none of the plans include Google Shopping data.
Focused on keyword research, iSpionage promise seven years’ worth of data. It also offers data for Bing and Yahoo, as well as Google. While small compared to Google’s 85% share of the search market, those extra engines mean iSpionage will cover close to 95% of all searches.
Despite extending to other search engines, however, it does not offer any data on Google Shopping data.
iSpionage starts at $50 per month, with the advanced tier costing $254 a month.
Where better to go for Google product research than Google itself? You can use the Auction Insights tool that is included within Google Ads to assess the effectiveness of ads placed by you and competitors.
The tool offers insights into normal Google Ads as well as shopping listings. However, it could hardly be called a Google Ads spy tool. Provided by Google, its purpose is more to encourage your ad spend than it is to provide intelligence. The reports will need a lot of interpretation and assumptions to provide value.
However, Auction Insights does have the advantage of being free. If the budget is tight, or you just like working with data, it can be a great place to start.
An all-in-one SEO solution, Serpstat includes keyword and competitor research among its tools. It does not, however, offer any ability to analyze Google Shopping data.
Serpstat is aimed at SEO professionals. Although it offers single-user packages, its main audience are agencies and large enterprises, however its one of the best priced rank trackers and SEO/ad research tools out there by far in terms of what you get for the price.
Serpstat’s tiers range from $55 to $399 per month.
PowerAdSpy, as the name suggests, is a straightforward Google Ads spy tool and includes other platforms as well. It offers a simple process for researching ads and competitors. Starting with information about keywords and competitors, along with data about the target audience, PowerAdSpy produces reports. These will include current and past ads, as well as landing pages, allowing you to emulate successful ads.
The service advertises itself as being built for affiliates by affiliates, and focuses heavily on extracting data from the ads to use, even down to things like screen position. It includes ads on a range of social platforms including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, but does not include data for Google Shopping product listing ads.
Prices range from $49 to $349 per month.
Google Ads are a proven way to drive traffic, and customers, to your site. But if you don’t use them effectively, they can be a costly mistake and just never generate the traffic your business needs.
Using a Google Ads spy tool helps ensure that your marketing is effective, and Google Ads competitor analysis helps you keep ahead of the competition.
However, if you are using Google Shopping, most tools do not offer any analysis, so the best you can do is make an educated guess. Alternatively, you can use Shopspook, the cheapest way to make sure you are ahead of the game when it comes to Google Shopping product ad listings.