Six Steps to Conduct Your Competitive Analysis

Advertising is like a war. Every marketer knows that demand creates supply. So, there is a continual battle for the users’ attention in the media landscape. If you want to win, you should know your enemy as well as you know yourself. 

You may assume how to measure competitors’ activity on the Internet, or you can use our express-analysis recommendations and do your research in 15 minutes. It might be a surprise, but the main information about the competitors’ activity is right under your nose. Websites, social media, and search engines are an inexhaustible source of useful information about your competitors. So, the main thing is to know what to pay attention to first.

STEP 1: WEBSITE ANALYSIS

There is no doubt that you’ve been on your competitors’ websites dozens of times, but without any special tools it is hard to understand how they attract potential customer attention. In the beginning, you need some free browser extensions: 

1. SimilarWeb. This is one of the main extensions that allows you to measure the website potential and the volume of income traffic without any direct access to your competitors’ analytics. It has multiple useful features that allow you to lift the veil of your competitors’ advertising activity such as information about attracting traffic through various channels, the most effective keywords, advertising networks, the interests of the website audience and its engagement metrics. This extension helps you to understand if there are any paid resources for traffic attraction. On the SimilarWeb site you can find more detailed information about traffic sources and, in particular, the percentage of users that came from the search.

2. Ghostery. This extension is for browsers and helps you to find out which trackers are embedded in the code of your competitors’ websites without studying all the markup of the web pages. Most of these tags and pixels may be related to the website owner’s marketing activity. 

We recommend to group them as follows:

  • Ad Serving Trackers

Ad Server provides the display of advertising materials on the publisher’s website: ad servers are responsible for instant decision on which ads to show on the website, and they also collect data about the number of impressions, clicks and conversion actions. Taking into account this information, you can find analytical systems trackers such as AdFox, AdRiver, Weborama, TNS and DoubleClick Campaign Manager. They collect Ad Server data during the advertising campaign, and can also record metrics after the campaign is completed (post-campaign analytics). The presence of such systems’ tags usually shows that the advertiser has large budgets for display and video advertising. Together with SimilarWeb, you can understand whether any active advertising campaign is underway right now.

  • RTB Trackers

The second group that can be distinguished among the tools for tracking income website traffic includes AdTech platform trackers (RTB, Programmatic). With their help platforms collect audience and behavioral data of the users, as well as the remarketing audience data. Detecting RTB trackers on the website lets us know that the advertiser is actively running an advertising campaign on the Internet. It also helps us to get an idea of their contractors who are directly launching ads.

  • Google Analytics Trackers

For any business it is important to know the target audience, and it is equally useful to know who visits the website. What are your potential customers interested in, and why does the user leave without completing the target action of an order or a purchase? If you don’t have the proper analytics settings, it will be really difficult to find this data. Digital advertising without analytics is like throwing money away. Determining the target audience and its behavior on the website is one of the fundamental stages of every promotion strategy. If your competitors’ website pages contain such trackers, that means that they know their audience value.

STEP 2: ADS.TXT ANALYSIS

Ads.txt stands for Authorized Digital Sellers. The main purpose of ads.txt is to increase transparency in the programmatic advertising industry. With the help of this method you can see who is authorized to sell the brand’s inventory. All you need to do is to enter your competitor’s company brand name in the search line and add to domain ads.txt (e.g. www.bbc.com/ads.txt). Then you will see information about all programmatic partners (supply-side platforms, ad exchanges, ad networks, etc.) that a competitor brand works with.

STEP 3: SEARCH ADVERTISING

When you have thoroughly studied the website and with the help of SimilarWeb you see that most of the traffic comes from the search and the Search tab shows paid search queries, then it is time to find the search ads!

What do you need to do?

1. Pick the most popular keywords that attract visitors to the website.

2. Enter these selected keywords in the search line in Google, Yahoo, Bing or others. 

As you search through keywords and update the page, you can see different versions of search ads. This information will be useful when you create your own advertisements. If you know what your competitors’ advertising looks like, you can choose the USP and form that will be used to create your own advertisements that will gainfully stand out from the rest.

STEP 4: SOCIAL NETWORKS

It is hard to imagine any business that doesn’t have social media accounts. Some shops and services, especially small ones, don’t even strive to go beyond social networks. Facebook has added the ability to view brand campaigns in order to increase advertising transparency. So, you can definitely turn this to your own advantage. 

Let’s see how it works:

1. Go to the Facebook Ad Library.

2. Enter your competitor’s company brand name.

3. Choose any advertising post and click “See Summary Details”.

4. In the opening window you will find information about advertising amount expenditure, impressions, age and gender breakdowns of people who saw these ads and where these ads were shown. 

STEP 5: VIDEO ADVERTISING

Video advertising is a growing trend among other advertising channels. With the increase of mobile traffic, the amount of time that users spend watching video content has also grown in the overall website traffic. When a brand is running an active advertising campaign on the Internet, it would be a little bit unreasonable not to use video ad formats.

According to Oberlo Statistics 

Even if you don’t reach your competitors’ target audience, and you don’t see their ads on YouTube, you can manually find and watch their ads on the company’s channel.

What do you need to pay attention to? 

  • Video content: what is the subject of the video? How does the competitor position themselves? How do they present the USP?
  • Video duration (some ad formats have restrictions on the video duration)
  • Number of views

STEP 6: BRAND AWARENESS

The brand awareness of potential customers and buyers directly affects its competitiveness. If the target audience is able to remember the brand name at the time of choosing or making a purchase decision, then efforts to increase awareness have not been in vain. This metric can be measured by various methods, from target audience surveys to Brand Lift technology. You can also use special services to calculate brand mentions in social networks and generally on the Internet. 

One of the most popular tools to monitor brand mentions is Google Trends. You can use real-time data to measure consumer search interest and search behaviour. 

From Google Trends you can find out:

  • Search interest over time.
  • Search interest by subregion.
  • Search interest in related topics and queries.

There are also multiple tools to measure brand awareness in social media. So, you can understand what people say about your competitors, so you will have a more detailed vision of how to position your brand.

Well, forewarned is forearmed

Analyzing your competitors’ performance is the first step to build your own strategy. Our useful tips can help you to get more information about your competitors’ advertising activity on the Internet, even if you only have limited tools and resources for assessment. The tools that are picked for express-analysis are available to any Internet user. In a small amount of time you can get valuable information that will give you a clear idea of your current market position and how to boost effectiveness of your own actions.