How to analyze competitors before launching contextual advertising: step by step instructions –

Why waste time analyzing competitors before launching ad activity? Of course, you can do without it. But competitive analysis will greatly help out when planning and adjusting the promotion, it will help:

  1. Determine the basis for budgeting and labor planning.
  2. Build an advertising strategy in context.
  3. Adjust the brand development strategy as a whole.
  4. Choose a channel or platform for promotion in advance and based on facts. Based on the activity of the competitive struggle, we can either use the main resources on the context, or, conversely, use it according to the residual principle.
  5. Increase knowledge about the market – your own, your team’s, or your contractor’s.

This analysis has a high efficiency: labor costs may be low, and the information obtained is useful.

To summarize: if you are focused on results, spending 5-6 hours on competitor analysis can save you a lot of time in the future. This will happen at the moment when you, having polished ad campaigns, will puzzle over why there are so few conversions.

Preparing for analysis – making a plan

  1. Let’s define competitors in contextual advertising.
  2. We will study the quality and quantity of competitors’ keywords.
  3. Let’s analyze the quality of the ads.
  4. Let’s evaluate competitors’ landing pages.
  5. Let’s analyze what they offer to consumers – their USP.

Step 1. Finding out who our competitors are

Often the advertiser designates several players as competitors, and when working with digital channels, it turns out that these companies practically do not overlap. This happens when obvious competitors are not placing ads in context, or when they are targeting other key phrases for assortment.

The task at this stage is to find out who is the competitor in contextual advertising.

They analyze competitors in two ways: manually collecting data and using special services.

Manual way

We write down the names of all competing firms in the table. We choose them based on competition in offline advertising channels and competition in the market as a whole.

Using services

Find competitors by domain. We do this using a competitive analysis service, for example, SpyWords or Serpstat. The algorithm in such services is similar. When analyzing our domain or the domain of a competitor’s site, we get a selection of similar competitors’ sites by intersection in context for key phrases and for queries in organic search results.

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We find competitors by key phrases. Find advertisers with a similar semantic core. If you enter a key phrase in the search bar, the system will display a list of advertisers’ sites that advertise for this phrase.

Consider flower delivery. For this business, we are looking for competitors for the high-frequency search query “flower delivery in Moscow”. To understand exactly which keywords to search for competitors, we prioritize the goods and services of the business. If you are going to sell more ready-made bouquets, then first of all you will compete on key phrases about bouquets. Accordingly, we are looking for competitors primarily for these phrases.

Step 2. Exploring the semantic core

When we have compiled a list of competitors and their domains, we look at what specific key phrases these domains advertise for.

So we can determine the advertising strategy of competitors: we analyze the semantic core of competitors (large or small), what goods and services are emphasized.

Competitive analysis services allow you to compare the number of key phrases and unique advertisements of competitors, this shows the quality of the development of advertising campaigns from competitors. For example, if the number of keys is 5000, and there are only 10 ads, this may indicate that the semantics were selected quickly and in large quantities (via Keycollector), and the relevance of ads to keys leaves much to be desired.

Life hack: The semantics of competitors can be borrowed and used in your own advertising campaigns. Fortunately, it is possible to upload complete lists of key phrases to Excel.

Step 3. Analyzing the quality of ad processing

At this stage, our task is to find out how much time and effort the competitor spent on setting up advertisements. You can search for other people’s ads in Yandex and Google search engines by entering phrases that are of interest to us. Advertisements in both search engines are marked with the “Advertise” icon.

What we evaluate:

  • number of titles;
  • the number of characters in headlines and texts: the more complete the ads are, the higher the CTR will be;
  • How ad extensions are used: are there quick links, clarifications, structured descriptions, display links, and others;
  • the relevance of the ad to a keyword: how well the landing page and ad text match the keyword you’re looking for;
  • difference between desktop and mobile ads.
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Step 4. Analyzing landing pages

Competitors’ landing pages can be opened and viewed by going from the same ad to Yandex and Google.

By studying them, we learn how competitors attract customers and fight for their loyalty. And you can also see how not to do it.

What to look for when analyzing a landing page:

  • how the site informs about discounts and promotions;
  • whether the website offers to join the loyalty program;
  • whether they use unique promotional codes (including for gathering an audience);
  • how the site navigation is arranged, is there any “bread crumbs” (when the user can go to the visited pages of the site in reverse order);
  • how convenient is the ordering process;
  • is the mobile version of the site convenient;
  • is there a fake phone number from the call tracking system on the site?

Step 5. We study the USP and the semantic load of ads

This stage is the most important. With the help of all the same advertising results, we find out what USPs our competitors use to lure users in context. We also study the advantages and opportunities of someone else’s business, which competitors write about in additional links.

What we evaluate:

  • whether the cost of the product or service is competitive;
  • is there delivery, at what time and for what money it is carried out;
  • does the call center work around the clock;
  • what is offered in loyalty programs.

Knowing about your competitors will help you create truly unique ad creatives and stand out. Even if a business does not currently have competitive USPs, it can be promoted through a competent marketing strategy and detailed analysis of competitors.

Beyond context: which competitor’s ad to look for

Ads in YAN and KMS Google

Advertising on the networks is not shown to us this minute in response to a search query. Ads configured for networks catch up with the user on third-party sites that are part of the YAN and KMC partner networks. This happens some time after a person has been interested in a product or service in a search engine. Ads in this format are not as clear and concise as search engines. It is important to evaluate the creativity of the texts, banners and USP of competitors.

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To “catch” ads of competitors, in the “incognito” mode, enter the phrases by which competitors are placed several times into the search engine. After that, go to third-party sites and look for the Yandex.Direct or Google Ads ad unit there.

From experience, the easiest way to catch YAN ads is on the and Yandex.News news sites, and Google ads are on

Advertising in social networks

The advertising activity of competitors in the social networks VKontakte, Odnoklassniki and Facebook can and should also be studied. For example using the Publer tool.

Website traffic

The SimilarWeb service is suitable for evaluating a competitor’s ad traffic. It allows you to legally obtain data on sites whose owners have not closed them from indexing (practice shows that few do this).

In the free version of the service, you can evaluate:

  • traffic ratio by device types – desktop and mobile;
  • Average session duration from Google Analytics
  • average number of pages per session;
  • breakdown of traffic on the site by source in percentage. The following sources are available: direct traffic, clicks from social networks, referral clicks, clicks from display ads, clicks from email campaigns and search traffic;
  • search traffic according to SimilarWeb rules is divided into organic traffic and paid search (contextual advertising). So we will find out how important online advertising is for a competitor’s business.


  1. Get to know your competitors by looking at their semantics, ad quality, and placement channels.
  2. Explore landing pages and their offerings.
  3. Identify your competitors’ USP and detach from them.
  4. Analyze competitors’ advertisements in YAN, Google Display Network and social networks.
  5. Evaluate what constitutes traffic on the site.

It is recommended to analyze the activity of competitors not only before the launch of advertising, but also during the placement, as well as during seasonal promotions, holidays and sales. Keeping your finger on the pulse is always useful, and even more so it is useful in such a dynamically changing and developing business like online advertising.

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