PPC campaigns are as much about targeting your audience as they are about staying ahead of other businesses in your industry. If your competitor discovers a customer segment or unique marketing tactic before you, they can quickly capture a huge chunk of the market and leave you in the dust.
While you can’t guarantee that you’ll beat them to the punch every time, you can at least take a peek at what they’re doing and use it to fine-tune your strategy.
Keep reading for 15 of the best PPC keyword spying tools to keep an eye on your competition, reduce the work you have to do, and improve your results!
What are ad spy tools?
When it comes to optimizing PPC ads, a key area to help improve is by tracking your competition. And being able to use spy tools gives you the ability to get the type of insight that can be hard to find anywhere else. These PPC tools take most of the guesswork out of tweaking your ads so you can beat your competition more often when it comes to paid search rankings. And many of them also monitor organic search rankings, making them great tools for content marketers using both PPC and SEO.
How do these PPC ad spy tools work?
Although there are many variable ad tools, the one thing they have in common is that they track your ad performance vs. your competition. And by collating that data, you then have some great at-a-glance information to make informed decisions to change and optimize your ads.
By viewing your competitor ads, you can see what is working for your competitors, track ranking positions, view competitors landing pages, and analyze their ad copy or keyword bidding. Some spy tools even give you an estimated ad budget for your business competitors and will also show you where their ads are placed across multiple platforms. Most tools will allow you to track specific keywords or keyword groups, and many will also offer alerts if your ads are underperforming.
Be aware, though, that some PPC spy tools will work with multiple platforms, while many will also focus on one platform.
The best PPC spy tools
Our list of the best PPC spy tools is in no particular order. But if you’re looking for a great tool to keep an eye on your PPC competitors, spot profitable keywords which you might be missing out on, or track your ranking positions or ad performance, all of these tools offer something useful.
SpyFu is considered one of the best PPC spy tools out there for several reasons. One of the biggest is how much you can actually learn about your competitors. From bidding information to the total budget spent, this tool allows you to be a fly on the wall at your competitor’s strategy session.
SpyFu also has a cool feature called Kombat that lets you compare keyword overlap between two PPC campaigns. This allows you to refocus your campaigns, determine which keywords have fierce competition, and adjust accordingly.
Prices start from $33 per month, making SpyFu an affordable option for marketers looking to spy on their competitors’ ads.
This useful PPC spy tool allows users to track ads on a wide range of websites, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter ads (among others). Note that this list doesn’t include Google Ads or any other search ads platform, so this is best suited for social media advertisers.
However, if you want to track things like the ad engagement, the landing page associated with the ad, analyze the ad text, or view the audience targeting, then BigSpy is a pretty cool tool.
BigSpy also starts at a very affordable level, costing just $9 per month for the basic package. This still allows you to analyze Facebook and Instagram ads and track 25 ads per day.
3. Google Auction Insights
If you’re looking to spy on your competitor’s Google Ad campaigns, Google Auction Insights offers an excellent and free solution. It allows you to see exactly who you’re competing against in your PPC ad auctions.
Everything from competitors’ websites to their Google ads impressions and shares becomes clear to you. The tool also helps you maintain focus since there are potentially dozens or even hundreds of competitors out there.
But only showing you competitors that bid on the same search terms as you can help focus your attention where it truly counts.
Since it’s pretty much integrated into the Google Keyword research tool, you can conduct PPC keyword research using the information you gleaned from the competition’s Google Ads.
4. Ad Beat
This super cool tool analyzes your competitors’ domain and tells you exactly how many ads they have been running and where. It also shows you the creative types (banners, videos, search, etc.) and can even tell you which publisher sites have shown their ads.
You can also spy on their videos, landing pages, native content, and much more. All in all, a very cool tool for anyone who wants to be kept in the loop with the competition’s ad efforts.
Ad Beat doesn’t come cheap, though, with the standard price clocking in at $249 per month.
As far as PPC spy tools go, Ahrefs is one of the most indispensable in a marketer’s kit because it’s useful for everything from tracking ranking positions to keyword research.
But Ahrefs’ organic search report also allows you to check the exact keywords your competitors are ranking for and how much traffic they get from it.
There are also other features like the Top Pages report that shows which pages send the most traffic to competitor sites and the Content Gap that shows the keywords competitors are ranking for but you aren’t. With subscriptions starting from $99 per month, Ahrefs is worth it for much more than just its PPC spying capabilities.
SEMrush is another top-rated SEO tool marketers use to track dozens of SEO metrics. But it’s also an incredible PPC spy tool. If you’re looking to spy on your competitors and get data on their bidding, PLAs, and Youtube ads, SEMrush is perfect for you.
Go further by spying on which ad copies are performing the best, how your keywords compare with your competition’s, and, more importantly, using the Keyword Kombat game to learn how keywords compare.
The beauty of using spy tools like SEMrush is that you can create a strategy that combines Google search optimization with your PPC ads for the best results.
With packages starting at $99.95 per month, SEMrush is a tool you can’t ignore.
SimilarWeb is one of the most popular PPC spy tools thanks to its traffic analyzing feature. It helps you to view the total traffic gained by any domain, and you can even compare it to yours.
It also has other features that make it an excellent spying tool. For example, SimilarWeb allows you to see the total number of organic keywords vs. paid keywords for a competitor’s URL. You can also see the cost per click and how much traffic each keyword drove to the website.
In fact, SimilarWeb offers a broad suite of analytical tools to track data across organic, paid, and affiliate ad campaigns, as well as market research, sales analysis, and much more.
With packages starting at $167 per month, SimilarWeb is an impressive tool and one with broad applications.
MixRank helps you check out what happens after visitors have interacted with your competitor’s Google ads. It has a huge database of 20M + mobile apps and 80M+ websites and can show you info on competitor landing pages and PPC campaigns.
MixRank is highly useful for app marketers because it can also help them stay on top of the mobile market trends before anyone else even knows what’s happening. And because you have access to competitor landing pages, you can craft a truly holistic strategy.
iSpionage is a great alternative to many of the PPC spy tools on this list because it combines a lot of spy features into one. Speaking in terms of goals, marketers often use iSpionage to optimize conversion rates and increase leads generated.
Some of the features include monitoring competitor spending (across multiple networks, from Google Ads to Bing PPC ads) and beating your competitors to available industry leads. With iSpionage, you can also sneak a peak at your competitors’ ad budgets, placements, and landing pages and identify content gaps to get the lead on your rivals.
Pricing starts from $50 per month, allowing an affordable option to track your competitors’ keywords and ad performance.
10. The Search Monitor
Tracking your PPC performance across multiple territories and regions can quickly get complicated for enterprises or larger businesses. And that’s where The Search Monitor comes in.
Offering a suite of tools to monitor your brand (and your competitors), including tracking affiliate violations, competitor activity on search terms, and bids on your branded keywords, the Search Monitor is a powerful tool. It even allows you to automate and track takedown requests for brand violations.
Like many of the PPC spy tools on this list, there are a lot of features. But being able to track competitor keyword bids, ad performance, and brand keyword bidding is the bread and butter here.
A tool this powerful doesn’t come cheap, with prices starting from around $600 per month.
11. Facebook’s Ad Library
Spying on your competitors’ Google Ads and landing pages is great. But if you’re relying heavily on social media ads, and specifically Meta’s suite of platforms, you’ll want to know what’s happening here too.
Facebook’s Ad Library is a convenient and free way to spy on your competitor’s ads to get a real insight into what they are up to on the platform. And because Facebook gives you access to more than just your direct competitors’ ads, you can easily study the landscape before exploring a new audience or niche on Facebook or Instagram.
Oh, and yes, it is free if you use Facebook Ads.
Stillio is another landing page spy app, although this one requires a bit of foresight. If you’re up against a specific competitor and want to see everything they do, Stillio will take automatic screenshots of the URL daily.
This is useful if you want to see tweaks in their approaches, such as offers, pricing, or new content. Combined with traffic analysis tools, you can clearly follow your competitor’s thought process and maybe even predict their next steps.
While it’s not specifically a PPC tracking software, Stillio can help you spy on landing pages, which can make or break ad campaigns.
There is a free 14-day trial, and after this, you’ll need to pay $29 per month for the basic package.
Follow allows you to follow your competitor’s activity with surprising detail. Everything from traffic estimates to their affiliate marketing insights is yours for gleaning.
If you want even more control, Follow has a Chrome extension that lets you pull concise data from the websites and landing pages you visit.
There are other features as well – the notifications you get when a website has a new activity or social media mention and the ability to share our insights with your team – that make it a great addition to any marketer’s toolkit.
Follow actually offers a decent free package, with 50 monthly searches of URLs. But the paid package is also very affordable, with an annual basic package at $297 or a monthly package for $37.
Serpstat is great when trying to review the competition around any of your keywords. You can check the CPC of each keyword and then view related keywords that top-ranked domains are also bidding on. Use this to identify interesting gaps in your competitor’s strategy and take advantage of them.
Serpstat also allows you to monitor competitor domain performance over time. How many organic keywords are they ranking for? How many PPC keywords are they bidding on? How high are they on the Google search results page? You’ll have all the answers.
Pricing starts from $55 per month for the Lite package or $119 for the Standard.
Moat belongs in a unique category of PPC spy tools because it allows you to see your competitor’s ads and, more specifically, where they were last seen. This allows you to track all the places that your competition is advertising so you can piece together their strategy and try to beat it.
Moat also shows you your competitor’s past ads (everything from mobile ads and ad copy to even the pictures used) in case you want to do deeper research and track their progression over time.
This may help you view your own efforts contextually or even measure your company’s growth alongside your competitors’.
Moat is built for enterprise customers, and there is no readily available pricing info, so you’ll need to contact them for a quote.
Although ClickCease is not a dedicated PPC spy tool, our dashboard allows you to track fake clicks on your PPC ads. This form of invalid traffic, or click fraud, was responsible for annual marketing losses of over $41 billion in 2021, with that figure rising to over $60 billion in 2022.
But it’s not just blocking bad clicks. ClickCease also comes bundled with AdSpy, a unique tool that allows you to track your competition’s Google Ads campaigns and get notified whenever anyone new bids on your search terms.
This early warning system allows you to track your competition, adjust your bids and improve your campaign performance.
You can try ClickCease, and AdSpy, for free for 7 days. Packages start from $55 per month for the standard protection.
Read more about the essential PPC tools to improve your PPC advertising campaigns.
The Bottom Line
There are many ways to beat the competition and boost your conversions; knowing what your competitors are doing just happens to be one of the most important. Everything from activity on their landing pages to their paid ads is a crucial piece of the puzzle. And that’s why these PPC tools can make a huge difference to your campaign goals and, potentially, your PPC website traffic.
But it’s equally important to protect your ads once they’re up and running. Invalid traffic and click bots can skew your data, increase your CPC, and inflate your ad budget.
The good news is that ClickCease offers advanced click fraud protection for your PPC campaigns and AdSpy, a powerful competitor PPC spy tool, so you can supercharge your campaigns and beat your competition.
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial today.