How To Spy On Your Competitor’s Paid SEM Ads

find out what your competitor is doing for paid ads online

Online marketing isn’t a zero sum activity. But with certain marketing endeavours, you lose when your competitors gain.  

Try to think of all the big things that occupy a marketer’s mindshare. Chief among them is how far their competition is with their marketing campaign and what tactic should they start employing to beat them.

So yes, online marketing is for the most part about steamrolling the competition you have. You want to outrank them in as many keywords as it’s humanly possible. But that’s NOT to say you get to hog everything – if anything, the market share you’re competing in is so big for everyone to enjoy a piece of it.

You however get to enjoy the bigger piece the more you outrank your competitors. PPC Ads are NOT an exception in this.  

Granted, we’re all perturbed every time we run a simple Google search, only to find our competitors’ Ads appearing at the top of ours. That’s where the temptation to snoop around and dig out for more info about the tactics they employ to outrank you creeps in – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong about it, provided it’s what anyone would consider a healthy competition.  

The reasons for this can be pretty simple. For instance:

  1. You may just want to find out how your competition is doing. Are they performing poorly or are they doing good enough to imply you should up your game?
  2. You may want to know about the results they’re getting. Are their efforts really paying off?
  3. You want to re-strategise and come up with solid ways to do it better and beat them.

For SEO, it’s almost impossible to predict the outcome. You can set your campaign with the goal of appearing on the first page, but that’s no guarantee that would be the case by the end of it all.

However, for PPC Ads, it’s easy to come up with theoretical tactics on how to beat your competition to the punch. But first, here’s a list of things you need to understand:  

A list of competitors using search Ads

Not every single one of the competitors you have is clued in to the value of search Ads. So until you have a sound proof that they’re also running a paid Ad campaign, you might want to direct all your focus on the competitors with search advertising.  

How much web traffic are they driving from the Ads?

Are the results they’re getting impressive enough to lure you in? If NOT, what could be the problem?

A list of their most successful keywords

There are tools that could help you come up with a list of all the successful keywords your competitors are using. Make good use of them.  

A look into all the Relevant Metrics

What’s their cost per acquisition, lifetime value, and Return on Investment?

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With that said, here’s a compiled list of all the tools you could use to spy on your competition and gather as much data as possible about them:  


ISpionage is designed to walk you through the details of the kind of Ads your competitors are running. With the tool, you can tell the number of Ads they’re running, as well as the keywords they’ve bid on and for how long.

You’ll also be clued in on how your competitors group their keywords and landing pages. That besides seeing the kind of Ads receiving the highest amount of traffic and how they’re generally ranked on Google, Bing, and Yahoo to name a few.

But what’s even better is the fact that you’ll also be helped to identify the most lucrative search terms together with their corresponding proprietary keywords effectiveness index.  

You’re free to check out the platform and find out more about it and how best to use it. They also have a free trial that doesn’t require you to enter your credit card info to use. But after that you have the option to choose between their basic plan which goes for $29 per month and their premium plan which goes for $299 per month.


This PPC tool isn’t very much different from the AdWords Keyword planner, but with an added layer of tracking keyword data from Amazon and YouTube. Here, you’re allowed to save keyword lists and filter them up for a perfect combination.

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Other than that, you should be able to grab every single detail of your competitor’s data and identify some of the gaps they have to start cashing in on them.

Their basic plan goes for $27 per month, whereas their gold status is priced at $99 per month. The gold package is preferred by agencies as gives them more research data in addition to covering a wider geographical reach.  

You’re therefore allowed to try out their free trial with no credit card. One thing though – the tool doesn’t allow any form of CSV export during the trial.  

Search Monitor

Search monitor is designed to crawl your competitor’s ads across different devices and from different locations.  

Essentially, the tool offers two primary services – competitive insights and brand protection. With competitive Insights, you’ll be gathering all kinds of data in brand bidding, Product Listing Ads (PLA), PPC Benchmarks, SERPs, and SEO to name a few.  

You can use the tool to track down brand violations, affiliate programs and to confirm price parity for the products and services offered by different sellers. Hotel advertisers are the most obvious beneficiary of the tool. It also tends to work best for brands with an international presence.  


Similarweb is an all-rounded tool designed to analyze all of your competitors’ data including their website’s audience, marketing mileage, and website demographics. In addition to all that you can also track the top most source of traffic for your competitors and other referral sites, as well.

Designed to work for both mobile and web app analytics, you could use the tool to create custom categories and to benchmark your competition but in a more overarching manner compared to other apps at your disposal.  

Their trial is absolutely free and doesn’t require you to enter any of your credit card detail.  


Every marketer you can think of probably knows about Semrush and what it can do. With the tool, you can easily review top-performing keywords of your competitors and sort them out in terms of search volume and the number of backlinks they have.  

Perhaps more interesting about the tool is the number of top features it comes with. From site audit, content analyzers, custom reports, and so much more, using the tool can prove to be more problematic for first timers, but as time goes and you begin understanding the ropes, you’d come to realize what an amazing tool it really is.

Their pricing plan starts from $99.95 per month all the way to 399.95 for enterprise clients.


Spyfu ought to be one of the simplest Ad spying tools on the list. All you have to do is enter your domain name and the tool will scrap for all the keywords your competitor is buying, together with their organic rank and their ad variations for the past 11 years.  

The tool can also recommend the most profitable keywords based on the scoured data.  

Their pricing plans go as low as $39 per month to $299 per month for multiple accounts and premium services.

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It’s a Wrap

As a PPC marketer, there’s a whole lot you could do to crush your competition and boost up your profits by ten folds. This list walks you through all the tools that may come in handy while at it.

However, if you’re still interested in learning more about closed loop reporting and PPC automation, then why NOT contact MediaOne today for a free ad marketing and SEO consultation?


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