One of Facebook’s lesser-known resources is the Ad Library. According to Facebook, “The ad library provides advertising transparency by offering a comprehensive, searchable collection of all ads currently running from across Facebook apps and services, including Instagram.”

The purpose of creating a transparent library is to allow Facebook users to know more information about the ads that they see. Of special interest to Facebook is the ability to provide users with information regarding ads regarding social and political issues.

Given the impending election, the homepage of the Facebook Ad Library currently shows a spending tracker for all candidates from each party, including the Libertarian and the Green parties.

Facebook Ad Library

Beyond the political spend dashboard, you can search by advertiser name and by broad category. To give it a try, I searched for Red Bull. My search pulled up a profile page for Red Bull as well as all active ads the company is currently running.

Facebook Ad Library
Facebook Ad Library

Facebook provides as much information regarding each individual ad as they can without encroaching on the rights of the advertiser. They provide the date the ad began running, the ID number, if the ad is “dynamic” and appears in multiple versions, and even if the ad creative is used in more than one advertisement.

Facebook Ad Library

Ad Details

When a person clicks on “See Ad Details” for an ad, they’ll see some of the following information:

  • Active or inactive: People can see when an ad started running and whether or not it’s currently running.
  • Disapproved notice: If an ad in the Ad Library was active but then became disapproved, it’ll show as “disapproved” in the Ad Library.
  • Impressions: People can see a range for the number of impressions the ad received (example: 1K-5K), not the exact number.
  • Amount spent: People can see a range for the amount spent on the ad (example: $1K-$5K), not the exact amount.
  • Demographic information (age and gender): People can see the % of people by age and gender who saw an ad.
  • Location: People can see information about the location(s) where the ad was viewed.

According to Facebook, the Ad Library is:

Available to everyone. Anyone is able to view and search for ads in the Ad Library. However, if ads include certain types of content, like alcohol or gambling, we won’t show the ad creative to people who are underage or aren’t logged into Facebook. When possible, we rely on people’s self-reported age to set these restrictions.

Searchable. People are able to search for any term, name or Page in the Ad Library. Common searches may include the names of political figures, the names of organizations that pay for ads about social issues, elections or politics, or a specific advertiser or Page. When someone searches in the Ad Library, any ads that include the term searched may appear as well as ads run by Pages that include the term. Ads that aren’t about social issues, elections or politics will only be discoverable through visiting a Page in the Ad Library and will not surface in keyword searches.

Informative: The Ad Library contains multiple trackers, including the Presidential, House and Senate trackers in the United States and the Custom tracker made available globally. The Ad Library Report provides data about advertisers’ spending, geographical spend and more. The API can perform customized keyword searches of ads stored in the Ad Library. The Ad Library homepage offers a status bar that keeps users informed of issues or outages within the Ad Library (such as planned outages, refresh delays, maintenance and more).

To learn more click here.


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