How To Monitor Competitors

What To Monitor and Why

Your Google Ads account is in war for online consumer attention and revenue, so it’s important to know your enemy. The reason many store owners, or their account managers, don’t track the competition closely is due to time. This means that they’re largely blind to following marketplace factors. This guide will show you the basic information you should know about your competitors and how to track it in a time-effective way.

What To Track

Competitor Pricing

  • What prices for similar or identical their products are being offered at elsewhere.

Competitor Catalog

  • What their competitor offer on the whole, whether it be similar products, accessories, add-on services, or complementary category adjacent products.

Competitor Promotions

  • What current offers are being advertised.


  • What locations, demographics, audiences, and keywords they’re targeting.


  • What online discourse is happening around the competitor’s products.

Always Consider Your Customer’s Journey

In a customer’s journey, they’re exposed to all of this information, and they’re making their purchasing decisions based on it. If you remain unaware of these factors, you can make poor advertising and business decisions, not realizing where and how the competition taking your potential buyers from you.

All of this information can help you fill in your marketing gaps, either matching what they offer or differentiating yourself in being the better choice. Instead of scratching your head wondering why last week’s sales dipped or spiked, you’ll have a far better sense of the battleground and who’s doing what. That greater perspective informs your campaign setup, management, and growth going forward.

The Improbable Reasons To Skip Competitor Monitoring

There are seldom times that you shouldn’t bother taking the time to track your competition.

  • Blue Ocean Your product is so unique and irreplicable that there simply is no one else in the world selling it. This referred to as a blue ocean.
  • Highly Localized If you’re the only hardware store in town, and you’re simply advertising in your town, then you’re probably fine. Lucky you.

Time-Effective Monitoring Techniques

Unless it’s your full-time job to keep tabs on the competition, it’s important that the techniques you use to research and monitor the marketplace are time-effective. There are certainly more involved analyses you can do, and we’ll have guides on those, but here are 5 quick things you should be regularly doing now.

Review Google Shopping

Takes ~2 minutes per week

Search for the main keywords used to find your product(s) and review the ads that show up in Google Shopping.

Note the following:

  • Who has the most visible ads Google changes each shopper’s viewing experience in little way, so you can’t rely on your experience showing you which ads are always the most visible. However, if you do this check regularly, you will be able to note who your most prominent competitors are. This is vital to know, because your potential buyers are seeing these ads and clicking on them. You need to know how you compare to them, so that you can better optimize for the shopper’s clicks.
  • What are the prices for similar/identical products If your product is the same or similar to what the competition sells, then pricing is a big factor for success. The shopper will often note the first price they see for a product and judge all other product values from there. It’s called the anchoring effect.
  • Which promotions they’re using These are typically price discount sales, free shipping, or great return policies that Google promotes right on the ads themselves with colorful labels.
  • The available product shipping filters The shopping filters can be seen on the left side of the Google Shopping results page. These often include colors, sizes, and price ranges, but can include many more to help shoppers find what they’re looking for. See which filters are available here not only guides you in optimizing your product feed, it also allows you to see how your competitors’ ads and free listings show up when using them.

💡 Tip: Set these searches as bookmarks to make it an even easier and faster process.

Competitor Site Check-Ins

Takes ~5-10 minutes per month

Because you can’t learn everything your competitors are doing from just their ads, it’s to your benefit to check in on your top competitor’s websites.

For each competitor, bookmark the following:

  • their homepage
  • their top (competing) product pages
  • any third-party review sites where reviews are getting collected on them (such as Trustpilot)
  • their social media (such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.)

What you’re looking for are:

  • price changes
  • out of stock situations
  • new or upcoming promotions
  • frequent complaints in bad reviews

💡 Tip: It’s also a good idea to subscribe to your competitor’s newsletters with an email address that’s not affiliated with your business. It’s like getting a regular intelligence briefing directly from the competitor.

Google Alerts

Takes ~1 minute per week

Speaking of intelligence briefings straight to your inbox, Google Alerts is a good way to have Google keep tabs on your top competitors for you.

Set it up for key terms regarding your competitor such as:

  • “competitor name”


  • “competitor name” sale

  • “competitor name” launches

  • “competitor name” announcement

  • “competitor name” bankruptcy

Auction Insights

Takes ~5-10 minutes per month

The Auction Insights data that Google provides within Google Ads is fantastic for tracking what your competitors are doing down to specific metrics.

Reading the Metrics

“Impression share” is the number of impressions received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive.

Simply put: How heavily are they advertising in your spaces?

“Overlap rate” is how often another advertiser’s ad received an impression in the same auction that your ad also received an impression.

Simply put: How frequently are they competing for the audience you’re targeting?

“Outranking share” is how often your ad ranked higher in the auction than their ad, or if your ad showed when theirs did not.

Competitive Visibility Report

Takes ~1 minute per week

Finally, make use of Google Merchant Center’s ‘Competitive Visibility’ report. As Google states, it will help you compare your visibility across Shopping ads and free listings based on displayed impressions on product-category level performance and allow you to understand:

  • Your consumer reach for Shopping ads and free listings – specifically and combined
  • Who your competitors are
  • How you compare against top merchants
  • How you stack-rank against competitors and top merchants over time

Relative visibility: How often your competitors’ ads are shown compared to your ads in Google Shopping.

Relative Visibility
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