How do AdWords spy services work?


There are several services like SpyFu, AdBeat & ispionage which advertise they can provide the keywords, budget, ad copy and other information which competitors use in different ad networks like Google, Bing.. etc. This seems like inside information.

1- How do these services get their information? Do they monitor the ads for extended periods of time and figure stuff out?

2- Are there any open source projects which are based on similar functionality?

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asked Feb 4 '11 at 03:57
Tony Henrich
283 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

2 Answers


Most use some sort of bot to scrape results, which monitors a set of keywords and see's what ad's appear. They are very much just a "guessing tool" as unless they have a genuinely massive crawler system with regional presence they are just seeing regional ads for the area the crawler is in. They are also ratcheting up the number of impressions over the period of time they are running, so maybe in some ad system increasing the Cost especially as ad's with low click through rates tend to get lower quality scores resulting in higher clicks, the longer the period of time the more likely they are to get a relative basic picture of competitors. Very much an industry he with the largest database of keywords and searches will have in theory the best chance of being closest in the guessing game.

You may find this article of some use to you. As for open source alternatives, their are plenty of scrapers out their that can be used.

answered Feb 5 '11 at 00:10
Tim Nash
1,107 points
  • Thanks. As for the open source project I wasn't looking for just a scraper (didn't even had in mind it's a scraper) but more of a total system. – Tony Henrich 13 years ago
  • I would be surprised if their was simply as its not really a unique product, most of these systems are just a scraper and large databases with a tiny bit of math in an exceptionally tiny niche and one where people doing this sort of analysis will either build their own or purchase the services of others. – Tim Nash 13 years ago


  • Prepare a list of words and phrases. Some Natural Language Processing knowledge is required here.
  • Extract from Google what phrases have higher advertising costs.
  • Sort by advertising cost and regularly search Google for most expensive phrases.
  • Scrap search results and fill in database.
  • Make some model that allows to predict exact result based on sparse sample.
  • Predict for all phrases and words.

... or something similar.

Some services collect data directly from Internet users via toolbars that spy on search results.

answered Feb 7 '11 at 18:19
2,288 points
  • "Some Natural Language Processing knowledge is required" to prepare a list of words and phrases? Can you clarify? – Tucson 13 years ago
  • You have to select some phrases to feed you model. Most probably have to analyze word, bigram (trigram) frequency table to select most frequent of them. – Ross 13 years ago
  • Generally you need at lest frequency of search terms. – Ross 13 years ago

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