Reverse engineering is the process of making a reproduction of another’s product/service by tearing it down and figuring out how it works in hopes of duplicating or producing better value.

Doing this process presents a lot of great benefits in business:

  • It greatly reduces the cost of research & development
  • It allows you to understand why it has an impact on the market
  • It can help you better understand the competition

In this five-part series, I want to take you through a series of reverse engineering procedures that will allow you to tear down your competitors to see what really makes them tick. You will gain an edge on the competition if you understand their fundamentals – this gives you the “one-up”.

The series will comprise of the following (which you may use to jump around):

Whether you know it or not – your competition is doing this to you. The competition is keeping close tabs on you; they may even be your customers to get on the inside!

But enough of all that… let’s get into the top of part one of the series: Advertising.

Understanding the Competition & Advertising

When it comes to reverse engineering your competitor’s advertising it really just comes down to keeping an eye open whenever you see their running campaigns.

You can keep an eye on them through a couple different, basic ways:

  • Search for their business, products, or services in Google
  • Subscribe to their social channels to observe when they do sponsored stories
  • Setup alerts for your competitors using Google Alerts

Here are some other different ways to monitor your competitors.

The simplest way that I would recommend is by using the site: SpyFu.

I had covered a section on this in an older post about tracking competitors which is worth a look.

To explain it in the most basic terms – you can do this:

1. Go over to

2. Type in a competitor (or their main keyword(s)) and view results

Though the free version doesn’t give nearly as much information as a premium account (for obvious reasons) we are still able to see some very interesting pieces of information:

  • Search volume
  • Avg. cost per click
  • Daily expenses (take it with a grain of salt)
  • Major keywords they bid on
  • Examples of their ads

From there you can then re-enter some of the keywords (or click through) to see other campaigns they may be running with them.

3. Combine this information with other methods (such as setting up alerts, doing Google searches, and monitoring their social updates). Create a swipe file of ads that you see are doing well. Look at how they word their advertising, use creative, and which landing pages they’re sending leads.

You may also find, through these methods, some of the ad partners they deal with so you could approach them inquiring about advertising space. When you’re talking with a rep you could casually mention a competitor is in the space and whether they could divulge information to aid in your campaigns if you so happen to advertise with them.

One more thing you may want to consider is using virtual assistants to collect information on your competition and send back reports, screenshots, and suggestions as to the best approach to gain an edge on competitors’ advertising.


Understanding your competitor’s advertising will greatly reduce the amount you will fund your advertising budget because you’ll now know the where, what, and how of their strategy. Keep tabs on their advertising, create a swipe file of their work, and then “one-up” them in their own game if you want to take a slice out of their industry share.