Have you ever asked yourself, “Why are my Facebook ads not delivering? Why aren’t they getting impressions?”
After months of strategizing, late-night copywriting, and hard work; your campaign is finally ready to go. You’ve got your target audience, you’ve checked for delivery issues, and all that’s really left is to click publish and watch the results come in.
But then something happens… or rather something doesn’t happen. Your Facebook ad hasn’t been shown to anyone.
Did you click something wrong? Is the system down? Has it even been sent out?
All of these questions burn in your mind as you furiously set out to figure what the heck is going on.
Don’t you wish you had a list of the top reasons why your Facebook ad campaign isn’t delivering and what you can do to fix it?
Here it is, just keep on reading!
If you’ve spent more than five minutes with Facebook Ads or AdEspresso, you’ve probably run into this kind of problem once or twice.
And like the many others that have come before you, and the much more that follow, the answer usually turns out to be something so frustratingly simple that you wish you had thought of it before.
To help shepherd you through the trials and tribulations of advertising on Facebook, we compiled a list of the most common reasons why your Facebook ad campaign isn’t working and what you can do to fix it.
Here’s the 2019 edition!
- Your Ads have been disapproved
- Your account spending limit has been reached
- Your image violates the 20% rule
- Your bid is too low
- Your campaign does not have enough budget
- Your optimization goal is hard to reach
- Your ads are not relevant to your audience
- Your audiences are overlapping
- Your ad is stuck in review
- Your ad is low quality
- Your ad is deemed as an issue of national importance
Let’s get started.
If your ads have been disapproved, Facebook will send you a notification, with the reason of disapproval, to the email address that you have registered with them.
If you can’t get into your e-mail, or just can’t find the notification, you can also check your status inside Facebook’s ad manager.
You can also find the status of your ad in AdEspresso by going to the All Ads page. Disapproved ads will be marked by a red circle with a white line through it.
9 Reasons Why Facebook Will Reject an Ad
If your ad has been rejected, there are a lot of reasons why that may be. Here are the most common ones.
- The ad features or promotes tobacco, drugs and drug-related products (including pharmaceuticals)
- The ad promotes unreliable and/or unsafe diet supplements (what qualifies as unreliable and unsafe is unfortunately up to Facebook and their discretion)
- The ad is selling weapons, ammunition, and explosives
- The ad features sensational, excessively violent content
- The ad promises counterfeit or fake documents, such as degrees, passports, or immigration papers
- Malware and spyware, surveillance equipment (spy cams and cell phone trackers, for example) can be found in the ad
- The ad uses unlikely or exaggerated “before-and-after” images to promote weight loss (ads for health and weight loss products must be targeted to people over 18 years old)
- The ad features “Adult Content”
- Unrealistic claims or get ‘get rich quick’ schemes
You can check out our guide (just click the image above) for even more guidance on why your ads may be getting disapproved.
Facebook’s Advertising Policies will also provide additional information about exact specifications.
What You Can Do To Fix It
Make the requested changes
For example, if Facebook cited your graphic as being inappropriate, simply change the image out to one that fits their standards. Once you’ve made your changes and saved the ad, it will automatically be resubmitted to Facebook for further review and (hopefully) approval.
Appeal the disapproval
Everyone makes mistakes, especially Facebook. So if you feel that your ad has been erroneously disapproved, you can always submit an appeal through Facebook. To do so, all you have to do is fill out this form here and provide the required information. If you are successful in your appeal, Facebook will automatically start your ads and alert you via the Ad Account or Facebook Page.
A simple problem that’s easy to forget (and fix!) is exceeding your account’s spending limit.
When you’re working inside of Facebook, each and every ad account has an individual spending limit that you can put in place. Usually, this is done to make sure your campaigns do not go over their intended total budget.
You would not believe how easy it is for someone to set a spending limit and then simply forget about it as the campaign goes on. That’s why it’s always best to double check your spending limit before you get into the real nitty gritty troubleshooting.
Once that limit has been reached, your ads will simply not spend. But luckily, it’s a simple fix to make.
What You Can Do To Fix It
If you want to check, setup, or remove your spending limit all you have to do is simply open up the Ads Manager Menu and navigate to the Billing & Payment Methods tab.
Once there, you will see the account spending limit box on the far right-hand side of the screen as well as how much was spent out of the total limit.
Below the spending limit, you will see three links at the bottom of the box, which will allow you to change, remove, or reset your limit.
Et volà, you’re all set!
When it comes to advertising on Facebook, there are a lot of rules; some of them are written down and many more are not. Among these hundreds of written and unwritten rules; one of the most forgettable, yet vitally important ones, is the 20% Text Rule.
What is the 20% Text Rule?
Well, according to Facebook standards, the images in your ads cannot exceed an image to text ratio of 20% – this includes logos, slogans, watermarks, and any other text that may be on your image.
To put it another way, you can’t have an image for your ad that’s a giant wall of text. If your image is deemed OK, that means you have the right amount of text and your reach will not be restricted.
To start off with, here’s the example of a perfect ad (or rather, Facebook’s ideal text ratio):
If your image has been given a Low, Medium or High rating; that means your ad has too much text on it and that its reach, in varying degrees, will be reduced.
Here are three examples of an ad with a Low, Medium, and High image text rating.
Now some of you may be thinking to yourself “But I’ve run plenty of ads that violate this so-called “20% Text Rule” and I’ve never had my ad rejected by Facebook.” And you might be right, but that alone doesn’t tell you the whole picture of what’s going on.
You see, in the past if Facebook found that your ad violated the 20% Text Rule they would just flat out reject your ad and tell you to completely replace the graphic. But now that’s not what happens anymore.
Instead of outright rejecting your ad, Facebook will simply reduce your ad’s reach or just not run it at all – usually without any warning.
With all that said, there are actually a few exceptions to this rule.
Book and Album Covers
This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Book covers are pretty much 90% with maybe one or two objects on the entire cover. The same is more or less true with albums as well. It would simply make no sense to ban these types of images.
Likewise, it would make no sense to ban video game ads that violate the 20% Text Rule. People are far less likely to click ad for Half-Life 3 if they don’t see its name featured in big bold letters prominently on the image.
As with book and album covers, this is simply a matter of practicality. With few exceptions, you will be hard pressed to find a product sold in the United States or around the world that does not have more than 20% text on its packaging; which is why product images are still allowed.
Once again, practicality carries the day. Only a terrible event poster would contain zero details about the event it is meant to advertise, which means it’s next to impossible not violate the 20% Text Rule.
Facebook also mentions that things such as charts and graphs, magazine and newspaper covers, movie and TV show posters, as well as legal text may also be considered exceptions the 20% Text Rule.
What You Can Do To Fix It
If you’re not sure whether your image fits Facebook’s criteria, you can use Facebook’s Text Overlay Tool to rate your image and find out. Based on how text-heavy your image is, you will get one of the following four results: Low, Medium, High, or OK.
If you find yourself in the higher categories (Medium or High) make sure to replace that image with another that has less text on it and you will see your ads start to deliver again.
Low text can be only slightly affected, so you can fix the other points in this article before replacing this one. Our writer Ana Gotter has also published a fantastic overview of this update on our blog.
Another issue that might be affecting the success of your ad is whether your bid is too low. Now if the word ‘bid’ instantly brings up images of an auction house, you’re right on the money.
Whenever you send your campaign out into the great advertising beyond, your ads are competing against thousands of others, at the same time, in what’s more or less a giant digital auction.
Interestingly enough when it comes to picking the winner of these “auctions,” Facebook doesn’t always look at the price. The 3 major things that factor into Facebook’s decision are:
- Bid price – The price you’re willing to pay for the desired action.
- Estimated Action Rates – How likely your audience is to take the above action.
- Relevance and Quality – How interesting your ads are to your audience, and the quality of those ads (which is determined by the amount of negative/positive feedback)
Based on these three factors, Facebook calculates a “total value” and this total value is what is used to determine whose ads are shown and whose are not.
Naturally, if you want to achieve the highest value possible, your goal for every campaign should be to maximize all three factors. Later on, we’ll discuss a little bit more about Estimated Action Rates and Relevance and Quality, but for now, let’s focus on the bid portion of this equation.
When purchasing an ad, Facebook allows you to choose what actions you pay for (link clicks, etc..) as well as how much you want to pay for them.
To determine how much you want to pay, you have two options: Lowest cost or lowest cost with bid cap.
By choosing “Lowest cost” bidding, you’re allowing Facebook to choose the best price for your selected action and bid competitively. For 90% of advertisers, this is a great option as it ensures that your bid price will never be set too low (and under deliver).
Adding a bid cap, on the other hand, is a different case. When selecting a bid cap, you’re the one telling Facebook what you’re willing to pay for your action, which is accomplished by designating your average or maximum bid. Facebook even mentions that you will have trouble with delivery if your bid is too low.
What You Can Do To Fix It
In AdEspresso, you can choose these options in Step 4 of the campaign creation process.
When bidding here, it is crucial to ensure that you are bidding an appropriate amount for your action.
Setting a bid that’s too low will nearly guarantee delivery problems, and chances are your ads will be shown very little or not at all.
In some cases, Facebook will display a message inside Ads Manager alerting you to this problem:
If you’re using a bid cap and you continue to see delivery issues, the easiest way to rectify the issue is to either adjust your bid to a higher price or switch to lowest cost without a cap, and let Facebook handle this part for you.
If you’re curious on exactly which option is best for you, you can read our most recent experiment on these two strategies here (for our surprising results) and our in-depth Bidding 101 article for a complete overview of the points mentioned above.
It’s true what they say: you get what you pay for. There may be thousands of ‘gurus’ out there preaching that $2 campaigns can make you a billionaire with their ‘1 secret trick’ – but for 99.9% of us out there that sort of a strategy simply will not do.
While your actual campaign budget has several factors that play into the cost (billing event, target audience, etc), the basic price for campaigns ranges anywhere between $2 – $10 per ad per day.
This amount usually gives Facebook enough money to be able to deliver your ads to a wide enough audience to gather data that is statistically significant.
Thank of it like gas money for your local pizza delivery person.
A critical error that you want to avoid is running numerous adsets with multiple ads inside of them – all of which are sharing a tiny budget.
Here’s an example.
- I set up a general post engagement campaign with a split test on 4 locations.
- There were 4 adsets in total, with one ad inside each.
- One campaign, I allotted around $4 per ad per day (for a total of $16 daily).
- For the other campaign, I chose to heavily restrict the budget to only allow for $1 per ad ($4 per day).
- All other elements remained the same in order to ensure a true test.
After a few days, the results were just as predicted.
The correctly budgeted campaign had far more impressions (almost 3x more) than the campaign in which I did not properly allocate enough budget.
What this example illustrates is how important it is to stop and take a moment to review how much your ad actually has to spend.
It’s not just important, it’s imperative to the entire delivery process.
What You Can Do To Fix It
To manage your budget on Facebook, go to the Ads Manager menu and select the Adsets tab. Once you’ve done that, select which campaign you wish to edit and click the pencil icon on the right-hand side.
You can then use the popup to navigate to the budget settings.
If you’re using AdEspresso, you can do that right from the campaign dashboard. 😉
- Simply navigate to your chosen campaign, and select the pencil icon next to the budget.
- You can then edit the campaign total using the Basic tab.
- If you want to edit the adset’s budget, just select the advanced tab.
- You will then see the list of adsets inside the campaign and from there you can edit the budget.
- Once you have edited your budget, click on apply and you’ll be all set!
If you’d like more information about how much you should spend per your marketing goals, you can find our handy budget calculator here.
If things are still not quite working the way you expect them to, there are a few more things we can still check, read other articles on the subject throughout our site.
When you select an optimization goal, you are telling Facebook exactly what type of action you’re looking for your audience to take. This, in turn, allows Facebook to target your ideal audience with even more precision.
For example, let’s say you’ve chosen to optimize for link clicks. Essentially what you’re doing is telling Facebook that, out of your selected audience, you’d like to target those who are more likely to click on links than others, based on their history of engagement with similar ads. This is how the Estimated Action Rates (that we mentioned earlier) are factored into the equation.
On the back-end, the use value signals as mentioned in the graphic below to determine the best audience for that specific optimization goal:
Using the proper optimization goal for your campaign objective is a crucial component to narrow down your audience. However, when you optimize for conversions, problems tend to arise.
Now, optimizing out of the gate for conversions isn’t necessarily the wrong thing to do – but when you do, delivery issues can occur. Typically, these problems are due to a lack of conversions.
When you are optimizing for conversions, Facebook uses conversions as a”source” for finding good targets for your campaign. But if you have no conversions, the campaign ends up running for a few days and then just stops. Why is that? The simple answer is that Facebook doesn’t know who could be interested in your campaign because it has no data (i.e. conversions) to work with.
What You Can Do To Fix It
To avoid this issue use a type of conversion that can occur several times throughout the day, such as using the ‘add to cart’ event instead of ‘purchase’.
You can also change the optimization goal to link clicks instead of conversions. The campaign will still keep track of these conversions, but this way Facebook will see what kind of people are interested in your ads based on who has clicked and will select a better portion of your audience to reach.
Once you are getting consistent conversions (Facebook’s recommended minimum is 50 per week) you can change the goal back to conversions.
To change this on Facebook, go to the Ads Manager, select your adset to edit, and switch the optimization of your preferred choice.
You can also do this in AdEspresso, and it’s even easier!
- All you need to do is navigate to your campaign dashboard and select the pencil icon next to the optimization goal field and make your changes.
An often overlooked part of the delivery equation is your Relevance Score. This score ( which ranges from 1-10) is Facebook’s way of telling you how interesting your ads are to your audience, and how they’re engaging (positively or negatively).
Someone on Facebook can either engage in a positive way (i.e likes, comments, shares) or negatively (hiding the ad from their newsfeed, reporting it as spam, etc…) and each of these actions will contribute to the overall score. The better the score, the more likely your ads are to be shown than others (and you’ll also pay less).
To see your score in Facebook, just go to the Ads Manager and select your campaign.
Once you’re there, you should be able to edit your columns so that your Relevance Score is displayed.
Once you’ve accomplished that you will be able to see your score, as well as positive and negative feedback (Low, Medium, or High).
Tedious uh? 😉
- To find your Relevancy Score in AdEspresso just log into your account, choose your campaign, and we’ll display the Relevance Score inside the Relevance & Engagement box.
In AdEspresso, you can also view the Relevance Score of the Ads and Adsets on the All Ads tab.
What You Can Do To Fix It (4 Ways to Increase Your Relevance Score)
If you have a low relevance score don’t worry – there are a lot of ways to improve it.
Here’re a few tips to get your score up.
Split test your images.
Different images can have a drastically different impact across groups and demographics. Bright colors on images and fonts may resonate well with a younger audience, but an older audience may find it difficult to read. Always try to represent the actual offer if you can, such as showing a picture of what they’re actually receiving (free download, physical product, etc). In AdEspresso, doing this is simple. Just add in your images, headline and text… …and we’ll create every possible combination for you. No more copying ads for hours on end!
Refine your targeting.
If you’re selling home insurance, chances are your ideal clients aren’t teenagers between the ages of 14-19. Using Facebook’s Audience Insights is a great way to see information about your target audience’s demographics and behaviors. If you sign up for a trial, you can utilize AdEspresso’s Facebook Ads Targeting Blueprint course to learn more in depth strategies you can use to find your perfect audience using custom audiences and interest targeting. We also have an Ultimate guide located here.
Refresh your creatives.
No one likes seeing the same ad over and over again (cue cheesy jingles here) – the same goes for your Facebook Ads. By studying your individual content’s performance and switching out the lower performing copy and graphics you can keep your audience interested and engaged. This post will give you some insight into how the pros create compelling designs.
Make your ads interesting.
By this point, everyone has seen a stock photo of a plain Mac on a desktop – and they’re sick of it. In a crowded audience your ads need to stand out, so your images, video AND copy need to as well. Think about what makes your company/offer/product unique and focus on the value it brings to your customers.
Remember that giant digital auction I mentioned earlier? Well when your audience has nearly identical interests across your campaign adsets, Facebook tries to prevent your ads from competing with one another during the “auction process.”
Consequently, Facebook will prevent some of your adsets from running; while at the same time running the ones that it thinks performs better, based on adset’s previous history.
When your audiences have nearly identical targeting across your campaign’s adsets, Facebook tries to prevent your ads from competing against each other during the auction process. If your ads are running like they’re supposed to, and none of the previously outlined solutions have worked for you, then it’s definitely checking your targeting options to see how similar they are.
Thankfully, Facebook created something called the Audience Overlap Tool to help us do just that.
What You Can Do To Fix It
- In order to compare your audiences, first select up to 5 audiences on Facebook’s Audience Page.
- Once you do that, click the Actions dropdown menu and select “Show Audience Overlap.”
- From there, you should be able to see where your audience’s overlap.
Here’s a quick example:
I have chosen 2 saved audiences – one with residents in the USA who have an interest of ‘cats’ and the other with people from around the world who have an interest in cats.
Looking at our chart above, we can see that the overlap between the two audiences here is 100% – meaning that if this campaign were to run, we’d most likely encounter the same delivery issues that I just spoke of.
However, that doesn’t have to be the case.
If we make a couple of changes and instead target users who like cats and live in the US versus people who like kittens and live in the UK, the overlap reduces massively – going down to 0%.
It’s as simple as that.
As we mentioned above, each ad is reviewed by Facebook’s team to verify that it meets the advertising Terms of Service. This process is handled by a combination of Facebook’s automated review systems and manual reviews done by members of their support staff.
If we check Facebook’s documentation, they state that *most* ads are reviewed in 24-hours, “although in some cases it may take longer.” This means that your ads can get stuck in the review process for longer than that time frame (especially in Q4 when ad load is high).
What You Can Do To Fix It
As Facebook mentions, an easy way to prevent this from interfering with your deadlines is to schedule the ad as far in advance as you can.
This gives you a few days grace in case your ad needs to be sent to Facebook’s team for manual approval.
You can schedule your campaign in advance by selecting the specific start and end date during campaign creation.
In addition, do not edit your ads until the approval has gone through since edits start the review process over again.
In an effort to stop spammy and ‘clickbait’ ads, Facebook has started to disapprove and reduce the reach of ads they deem as low quality.
They’ve separated these low-quality types of ads into 3 main categories: Engagement Bait, Withholding Information, and Sensationalized Language.
We’ve all seen ads that ask for people to ‘like and tag your friend’ for one reason or another. What you might not know is that this is against Facebook policy, and can impact the delivery of your ads.
Facebook defines these as “Ads with spammy content asking people to engage with it in specific ways, such as requesting likes, comments, and shares” as in the example below.
You might have seen headlines like, “This ONE WEIRD TRICK cures cancer – doctors hate it!” which indicates that you won’t find out what the weird trick is until you clicked. This is considered withholding information and will also reduce delivery, or get you out-right disapproved.
Sensationalist language –
Facebook states that sensationalist language is “Ads that use exaggerated headlines or command a reaction from people but don’t deliver on the landing page”.
If you’re claiming that cabbage is THE MOST POWERFUL ANTI-OXIDANT KNOWN TO MAN!!!!!!, chances are you’re going to get reduced delivery.
In addition to what we’ve mentioned above, Facebook also goes on to state that we should expect the following about low-quality ads:
Individual ads with low-quality attributes will see reduced distribution in our ad auction, or will be disapproved. This applies to all advertisers, but since we tend to see more of these characteristics in ads related to media, entertainment, politics or issues of national importance, they may be impacted more.
If you’re in one of the categories above, be careful to give your copy extra scrutiny before publication.
What You Can Do To Fix It
The answer to this is very simple:
Avoid any and all of the language you saw in the above examples and you will not have a problem with low-quality ads.
If you’re looking for some guidance in how to write great ad copy, check out this blog post!
Last year, Facebook made some game-changing moves for those who run ads with political content or on behalf of politicians.
While the definition of ‘political content’ can change from country to country, one thing is certain – those who are running ads around any of the topics have to carefully toe the line to be compliant with Facebook’s ToS.
Facebook also states that they ‘expect these issues to change over time’, meaning that what may be considered non-political today could easily change next week.
If your ad is not delivering due to it being considered political, you’ll see a notification inside Ads Manager.
What You Can Do To Fix It
As the above notification states, you need to be authorized to run these ads.
Still Struggling With Your Facebook Ads Not Delivering?
Use Facebook’s Delivery Insights for more information
What we’ve outlined above are the top 11 most common reasons that your campaign isn’t delivering properly, however, Facebook also has another tool up its sleeve to help you diagnose problems with your campaign – it’s called Delivery Insights.
In order to use this feature, your adset must be running for at least 5 consecutive days, and have over 500 impressions.
Once it does, you will see the Delivery Insights link by hovering over an adset in your campaign:
Clicking the link will lead you through a few popups explaining what Delivery Insights can help you with:
On the next page, you have a few options to review. You can start by looking at your spend, impressions, or even a conversion event.
You can break all of these figures down by Audience Saturation, Activity History, Auction Overlap, and Auction Competition.
This view allows you to see when your ad stops reaching new people, or when they stop responding to your ad.
Worried about how a specific change you made could have affected your adset? This is the perfect view for you.
Just like we mentioned above, having overlapping audiences impacts delivery. Using this segmented view allows you to check those effects over time.
Want to know how your adset is ranking with the competition? With this view, you can see a timeline of how competitive your ads are in the market, allowing you to take action and increase your bid to win the auction for that same audience.
And Now it’s Up To You…
Facebook may be a pernicious beast, filled with unwritten rules and occasional glitches, but it’s still a creature that you can safely navigate if you have a solid understanding of the basics.
Part of that understanding involves being able to recognize the most common reasons why a campaign isn’t working and knowing exactly what to do when it happens to you.
If you’re still having trouble with your campaign and you need an extra set of eyes to give it a look, AdEspresso can help!
Our campaign reviews and coaching sessions can help you address the deeper issues with your ads and provide you with expert advice on how to fix it.
You may not be able to troubleshoot every single error that you encounter, but with the knowledge you’ve gained today, you will be able to save yourself from a lot of heartache and frustration.
Which, in this line of work, is worth its weight in gold. Or should I say click-through rates?