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Each new campaign is an opportunity to review the approach in terms of the target audience, bid setting strategy, and creative or ad copy itself. It can be frustrating when campaigns don’t get the expected impressions. Sometimes the explanation will be very simple like choosing the right date in terms of display results or passing ad moderation. However, in some cases, the problem can be more complicated. I will try to describe some of the most common cases of not displaying ads on Facebook.
Crucial: when I don’t see ads, it doesn’t mean they don’t display
When you can’t see your ads, it doesn’t mean they don’t display. Unlike Google Ads, Facebook ads are a bit more difficult to trigger impressions for yourself or a customer.
Interestingly, Facebook Ads has developed strong transparency for audiences. With each ad, you can click on the three dots in the upper right corner and get information about why the ad appeared to you. In most cases, this will be:
- visiting the advertiser’s pages beforehand (remarketing on Facebook)
- other types of interaction such as liking a profile, adding a comment, downloading an app
- demographic data such as gender, and age within the limits specified by the advertiser
Summary: just because you can’t see your ads doesn’t mean they aren’t displaying. The only source for verifying this is the Facebook Ads panel itself and the data available there.
One of Facebook Ads’ privacy obligations is to require advertisers to target a minimum audience size for their ad campaign. Your ads will not be displayed on Facebook if your target audience is less than 1,000. More often than not, this error is due to setting very broad exclusions that result in a small group remaining from the original large base. Another reason could be that you are using your own audience lists that did not get the right level of matching. You should also check the size of the remarketing lists you are using (on the Recipients tab in FB Ads).
The simplest solution to the problem is to add additional behaviors or interests at the ad group level. You can also use FB’s algorithms themselves to increase outreach to similar users. In this case, you don’t have to worry about targeting, as the ad system itself will profile audiences for your Facebook campaign
Your ads have been rejected
Facebook has its own rules regarding the ads you can display on the platform. Some industries are completely blocked, and some have restrictions. In most cases, Facebook does not allow you to display ads from prohibited categories, such as banned substances, violence, weapons, spreading hatred, dangerous organizations, gaming and gambling, and sexual and adult content.
It is also important to keep in mind some additional requirements of Facebook’s advertising system:
- Advertisements containing the Facebook brand name, both in copy and on the creative, must not be the main theme, it should be used as a supplement
- Fake News. This rule seems obvious, but if you use any promise or cite sources, Facebook may verify this data before accepting the ad
- Low-quality content. If your ads contain errors, abuse capital letters, or use punctuation incorrectly, your ads may be rejected
- Using limited keywords or special categories. Facebook Ads will pay special attention to words such as, for example, “fat loss,” “mortgages,” “instant loans,” and other terms that seem to touch on sensitive and controversial topics. These will be flagged for further verification
- Use of personal phrases. Your advertisement must not contain statements beginning with or including “you” or references related to ethnicity, religion, beliefs, age, gender identity, etc.
There are also restrictions on the amount of text that can be placed on a graphic. Each ad creative should contain a maximum of 20% text in relation to the entire image. It is likely that your ad in this case will not be rejected, but subject to a display limitation. You may get fewer ad impressions in this case.
Advertisers are also restricted in advertising so-called special categories such as political topics, housing sales, dating, etc. Each of these is a protected category and requires first being flagged in campaigns and in some cases a special approval process. Campaigns with the goal of possessing contacts may be particularly carefully vetted.
Facebook sometimes automatically rejects ads that are close to the limit of its rules – sometimes this happens automatically, sometimes manually. If your ads have been wrongly rejected, you can contact the help desk to request additional verification. There are times when an initially accepted ad is rejected during the course of a campaign.
Campaign settings limit the display
Facebook’s goal is to implement the campaign settings that advertisers configure. For this reason, the FB Ads panel itself is structured in such a way that it begins with an advertising goal You, as the advertiser, communicate to FB what results you expect and what budget you can meet. In some cases, FB may simply not be able to effectively reach users of the platform.
Here’s an example. Suppose you want to obtain installations of your mobile app at a maximum of £5. So you impose this limitation in the settings, but you still expect to realize a daily budget of 1,000 PLN. It turns out that Facebook Ads only spend about 40-50 PLN per day, even though you set 1,000 PLN. Why? Well, according to Facebook, it is not possible to get more installations in this amount. It is likely that the algorithm would have to increase CPM rates to reach your audience, which would entail an increased CPI cost.
What to do about it? If you want to keep your budget and rate limits, you could, for example, rebuild your target audience or improve your ads. If that doesn’t help, you’ll probably have to increase the limit or lower your expectations for the scale generated.
Often an effective strategy is to start by automatically setting rates at the lowest possible cost, with no additional limits. At the same time, you can set up some experiments to better understand your target audience, copy, and creatives without losing potential.
Ads have low-quality scores or engagement
Facebook Ads strives to make ads on the platform well-tailored to the audience, interesting and engaging. The higher the quality of the ads, the better results you can expect, similar to Google Ads’ quality score.
There are three factors that go into analyzing the quality of an ad unit on Facebook Ads:
- Quality ranking: the ranking of ad perceptions. Quality is measured by feedback on your ads and user experience after clicking. Everything is in relation to the target audience you reach and similar advertisers.
- Engagement rate ranking. Engagement includes all clicks, likes, comments, and shares. As above, FB will compare your ads to similar other ads.
- Conversion rate ranking. Your ad is compared to ads with the same optimization goal within a similar target audience.
- Conversion rate ranking.
Because of higher quality scores, such as building more relevant and engaging ads (higher CTR), you will lower the cost of buying traffic (lower CPC), allowing you to get cheaper conversions and better return on ad investment (ROAS).
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The spending limit has been exhausted
The spending limit is the maximum spending amount for the entire advertising account. When this limit is exceeded, Facebook automatically stops all current campaigns. This is a very common mistake because Facebook does not inform you in advance when the limit is approaching (unlike Google Ads).
How to fix it? You can fix this problem by changing, resetting, or deleting your account’s spending limit. In the Settings section of the Ad Manager, go to the Billing and Payment Methods section. Currently, there is no way to set dates for account budgets and you can only maintain one setting per period.
Scheduling errors can affect ad reach and prevent ads from being displayed. Most often in our digital agency auditing accounts, we encounter such problems:
- Set a future date for ads that have not yet been reached: This means that ads will be displayed in the future.
- Passed ad set end date: When the campaign’s delivery date has passed, Facebook will stop displaying ads.
- You have stopped the ads: either manually or through a rule. It also happens that you have lost access to a resource like a product catalog, and thus the campaign is not active.
Correcting scheduling problems is usually very simple. All you need to do is check and adjust the dates or make sure you have the necessary access to the resources used in the ads like the profile or data directory.
Summary. How to identify why an ad on FB is not displaying and what to do?
As you can see, the reasons why a Facebook ad doesn’t display are many. Some of them are very simple to diagnose, while others require comprehensive verification. It is worth using the following checking scheme to get to the root of the problem.
- First, make sure you have the right period selected to analyze ad impressions or campaigns.
- If you have ensured that the ads have not collected any data so far, check the ad spend limits at the account, campaign, and set level.
- First, check the ad spend limits at the account, campaign, and set level.
- Verify whether your ads are active.
- Check the expected size of the target groups in your ad sets. Increase their volume, if necessary, or enter an automatic expansion of the target groups.
- If you are using limits, e.g. on conversions, turn them off for diagnostics.
- Verify that exclusions do not zero out your audience.
- Check quality scores at the ad level.
- If the above does not solve the problem, make a copy of the campaign and use the broadest possible targeting without limits.
- If this does not help, it remains to contact FB support.
CEO and managing partner at Up&More. He is responsible for the development of the agency and coordinates the work of the SEM/SEO and paid social departments. He oversees the introduction of new products and advertising tools in the company and the automation of processes.