How To Spy On Ad Campaigns Without Spending Any Money

Right now – there are affiliate marketers who are spending $1000 a month to spy on your ad campaign.

Why? Because copying someone else’s idea is the fastest way to launch a profitable campaign. And if you do it right – the costs of the spy tools are far outweighed by the profits you can make by using them.

But what if you’re new and don’t have the knowledge or the extra cash to invest in spy tools yet?

Today I’m going to show you how to spy on your competitor’s website for free.

  • If you do this you’ll save months of time.
    You’ll be able to launch campaigns as fast as the big guys. You’ll remove 90% of the guess work and have a real chance at making money.
  • If you don’t do this you’ll be working in the dark.
    You’ll lose money on every bad idea you come up with until (if) you find something that finally works.

Why Stealing Is Good

I’m a big fan of originality. Half of my biggest campaigns come from original ideas. But the other half of the time I borrow someone else’s idea and then I innovate it into insane profitability.

Let me say that again: “I borrow someone else’s idea and then I innovate it into insane profitability”.

The goal is not to steal and idea and make money with it. The goal is to use the stolen ideas as a baseline to work against and destroy it with your own innovations. Be sure you understand that, because if you do this correctly it works really well.

Think Mark Zuckerberg vs. The Winklevoss twins. The Winklevoss’ had the idea and Mark (allegedly) stole it and innovated the living shit out of it. The Winklevoss twins got $65 Million and Zuckerberg is worth over $30 Billion.

As you can see – innovation can be way more profitable than invention.

What Are Spy Tools?

Spy tools are web apps that scour the internet to find all of the ad campaigns that are running and show you all of their data in a single place.

A good spy tool will show you your competitor’s ads, traffic sources, traffic volume, keywords and how long the campaign has been active. That kind of insider information makes launching a campaign pretty damn easy.

Most spy tool companies charge anywhere from $99 – $599 a month for the information. That’s not cheap – but if you have the extra money, they’re totally worth the price. Here’s a quick review of a few of the top paid tools.

Premium Spy Tools (my referral links):

1. WhatRunsWhereWell known and widely used. Spy on display (media buys) and mobile campaigns worldwide. Paid plans range from $150-$299/mo. If you want to check it out without paying for it they offer a 3 Day trial for $1

2. LotsOfAds.com. Great spy tool for social campaigns. Amazing targeting abilities. Example: You can see what ads are being shown to 38 year old men who listen to country music and live in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Check out the Free 7-day trial use promo code “MALAN” for 10% off forever..

3. BoxOfAds.com. Spy on PPV campaigns (Trafficvance, Leadimpact, etc.) and media buys. I’ve used it for PPV and if you do it right you can copy and paste campaigns all day long. Free 3-Day Trial, then $147/month.

But remember, today we’re talking about how to do this for free.

The Free Spy Tool You Can Use Today

The free spy tool you’re going to use is Follow.net. This spy tool was built by Wes Mahler, the guy that created Tracking202 back in the day.

Follow.net shows you detailed information about ad campaigns running on display (media buys) and PPC networks. You can’t see Facebook, mobile or PPV. If you need to spy on those mediums, use the premium tools listed above.

Follow.net makes it easy. You create an account, type in a url and they show you their campaign information for free. If you want to unlock more information about the campaign their paid plans range from $19 – $99/month. But for our purposes today, all we need is the free account.

You don’t get as much information as you do with WhatRunsWhere and you can’t view Facebook or PPV ads, but for the good ol’ price of free, it’s hard to beat.

Note: They also have a browser plugin that allows you to get your competitor’s info in 1-click. But it’s incredibly buggy on Safari (my browser of choice). I talked to Wes and he said it works fine on Chrome, Firefox and IE.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Spying on a competitor’s website takes about 5 minutes. Here’s exactly how to set it up.

First: Create a free account

1. Click here to go to Follow.net and create a free account

2. Click the red “Get Started” button

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3. Enter your name, email and password and click the blue “Sign Up” button

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4. You will then be asked to confirm your email address. To confirm, check your email and click the link they provide.

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5. Once you’re verified, feel free to watch the welcome video and click “I’m ready to get started!”

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Next: Add Your Competitor’s Landing Page URL

Add the url of the landing page you want to spy on and click the big, blue “Follow Sites” button

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Finally: See all their campaign data

Here is where the magic happens. From here you can see everything you need to know about their website, how much traffic they’re getting, the images and ad copy they’re using, keywords they’re bidding on and more.

For this example we’ll track nextadvisor.com

You can see in the image below that the website is getting more and more traffic every month. This means that they’re doing well and most likely making a ton of money.

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Further down the page we can see the ads they’re using on Google, Yahoo and Bing PPC campaigns.

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We can also see the keywords that they’re bidding on.

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Here are a few of the image ads they’re running.

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As you can see, there is more than enough information here to get an idea of what they’re doing. Now we know what ads they’re using, where their traffic is coming from and some of the keywords they’re using.

Using all of this data we can build a solid campaign that has a chance at being successful from the start.

Next Steps

Now you have a set of assets to launch a campaign with. If you followed the directions above correctly you should now have banner ads, text ads, traffic sources and keywords.

What I normally do here is build their campaign verbatim and then create a version of my own to compete against it. Then I choose a winner and start innovating and optimizing it.

Remember, you probably won’t profit immediately. Just because you’re using ads and landing pages that are working for someone else doesn’t guarantee they will work for you.

What you have is a solid baseline to start with and test against.

End of lesson.

Conclusion

Spying on your competitors is an essential part of the game. Most spy tools cost hundreds of dollars a month, and are worth every penny.

But if you’re new and don’t have the extra cash, Follow.net is a free option that does a damn good job.

Enjoy.

Click here to start using Follow.net now

  • Zach

    I believe WRW is running a 3 day trial for $1, not 30 day trial.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      fixed – thanks zach!

      • samrex

        True, but if you get to the end of your 3rd day and then go to cancel, give the reason for your cancelation as ‘DIdn’t have enough time’, they’ll give you two more free days 🙂

  • Hammad Mahmood

    Great post Malan. Yea I cant see the benefit in subscribing to highly paid spy tools when I only need to spy every few months in initial campaign building stages. The only thing I subscribe to is spyfu because their yearly subscription wasnt too expensive and data is good for ppc.

    Oh another tip for free spying (not sure where I heard it first). Go to google images, type the advertiser/niche/product name, click [search tools > size > exactly] and enter any IAB standard banner size (eg. 300×250) You can get plenty of creative ideas from that.

    • http://www.bronsonlaureiro.com/ Bronson

      Nice share Hammad

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      yeah been doing that for a long time, works pretty well 😉

    • http://www.gamemob.com John Kim

      Hey Hammad,

      I’m from WRW, our payment model is month-to-month and is flexible for individuals such as yourself. You can simply pause and reactivate our tool whenever needed. Also you can switch between packages very easy as well.

  • pete

    Sorry, Correction to previous post.

    If I’m not mistaken I think a lot of these tools work Ok with domains like mysite . com but not with sub-domains like mysite . com . au

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      no clue. works great for .com tho 😉

  • Nikolov

    Thanks for sharing such eye opening tips here 😀

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      you bet Nikolov, hope it helps brutha

  • jaya laya

    Great thanks to you Malan Daras. You must have big broad heart to reveal this free spy tool. Many have ability but to have both ability and big heart is rare. I will start using for media buys. It is always my favorite.

    • http://malandarras.com/ Malan Darras

      hey jaya, glad you liked it. it’s a great free tool to start with. good luck – Malan

  • just wanted to say

    awesome!

  • https://forexforge.com Dustin Donham

    Thanks for sharing…. I signed up with your referral link.

    • matthew22929

      dont have a cow man

  • Ayoub Joey

    Hey mala , great post,
    Wich one works for ecommerce and facebook ?