Why do we need to spy?
Sometimes it may be difficult to decide where to start, especially with your first campaigns or when you test a new vertical. This is when you need a little extra nudge or some inspiration, and this is when spy tools or services come into the light.
A wise affiliate makes it his business to see the trends and know the latest creative fashions, to learn the newest approaches to traffic sources and GEOs, etc. Looking at your competition, or spying if you prefer, is the best way to do it without spending an eternity manually browsing through a ton of websites. You can check out ad formats, traffic sources, GEOs, landers and pre-landers, and much more. This will give you a new spin on old ideas or simply give you the inspiration to create something new.
How do spy tools operate?
Spy services differ in the ways they collect and process data. Some use search bots and crawlers that scan the net automatically and pass the relevant information to the main server, just like search engines do. There is an approach when a spy tool has many (like, thousands of them) social accounts incorporated into its database so that it can search social networks too. Some platforms work directly with ad networks and take the data on relevant creatives from their database. Whats important for us as marketers is that these tools do their job, so we can do ours.
Some examples of spy tools
A list of spy tools can be a mile long, so well just take a look at some best-known ones.
Adheart is a spy service that has been developed by people with affiliate marketing background. Its mostly for Facebook and Instagram campaigns and has a database of about 650 bn creatives. With this tool, you can browse through creatives and applications, sort by language, platform, device type, content type (video or static), domain, active time, etc. Also, assemble lists of creatives for future use, check out landing pages, FB fan pages, lead-forms, etc.
SEMRush is a platform that enables you to perform competitor analysis, search by domain, keyword, or URL. This spy tool analyzes context ads in Google (including Google Shopping) and Bing, as well as social media content. SEMRush has 810 million domains, 20 bn keywords, and 35 trillion backlinks in its database. If you are interested, there is a free trial with limited features.
AdPlexity analyses native and push, desktop and mobile ads since 2008, so its been in the thick of it for quite some time. With this tool you can download landers, search for creatives, sort by traffic source, OS, keyword, etc. The GEO coverage is huge, but there it no free trial, unfortunately. But we can offer a lengthy yet comprehensive guide by Attila Odree on how to make the most out of this.
Anstrex helps to analyze native and push ads. Its a cloud-based solution that enables you to monitor creatives and landers from 38 ad networks and 92 GEOs.
Tips and tricks
- Its easy to register with one of the platforms and start spying, but you also need to have an idea on what to do with all this information that you have found. Here are some ideas on how to not waste your time and money on spy services but make them work for you.
- First and foremost, dont just take those creatives as you find them. Spy tools are there for research and inspiration, not for stealing. And its not a moralist talk, its common sense. Why would you take a creative that has already been seen by users and just make it more annoying by doubling it instead of distracting the audience with something faintly familiar yet different? Just think about it.
- When using a spy service, make search queries in your target language. Remember, people are more likely to use their native language to browse for things than English. You can also compare the results in Google Trends.
- Take advantage of the filters within the spy tool. Cut off irrelevant devices, GEOs, networks to save time and find the gems you are looking for.
- Analyze the data you have found. Its not just about having the information, the final outcome depends on how you use it. Search for trends and correlations, notice the shifts in user preferences, etc.
Using spy tools may be a lifesaver that you needed all along while optimizing in the dark. This is no magic, youll have to wrack your brains to analyze what you find with these services, but they do make our lives easier. Choose the best spy service that caters to your needs and fits your budget and make data-driven decisions for your campaigns.