Have you ever asked yourself, “Why are my facebook ads not 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 one click away!
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’ve compiled a list of the top eight most common reasons why your ad campaign isn’t working and what you can do to fix it.
Let’s get started.
#1. Your ads have been disapproved
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.
If your ad has been rejected, there are a lot of reasons why that may be. Here are the most common ones.
9 Reasons Why Facebook Will Reject an Ad
- 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
P.S You can check out our guide 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 can you 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.
#2. Your account spending limit has been reached
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.
Once that limit has been reached, your ads will simply not spend. But luckily, it’s a simple to fix make.
What can you do to fix it
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.
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.
#3. Your image violates the 20% rule
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.
- Games – 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.
- Product Images – 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.
- Event Posters – 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.
Other Exceptions: 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 can you 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.
#4. Your bid is too low
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 you pay for (link clicks, impressions, etc..) as well as how much you want to pay for them.
To determine how much you want to pay, you have two options: Automatic or Manual.
By choosing Automatic 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).
Manual bidding, on the other hand, is a different case. When selecting a manual bidding strategy, 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.
What can you do to fix it
In AdEspresso, you can choose these options on 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.
If you’re using Manual bid 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 Automatic bid 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 or our in-depth Bidding 101 article for a complete overview of the points mentioned above.
#5. Your campaign does not have enough budget
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 ad 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.
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.
In this campaign, 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 can you 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 or read other articles on the subject throughout our site. If things are still not quite working the way you expect them to, there are a few more things we can still check.
#6. Your optimization goal is hard to reach
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 were mentioned are factored into the equation.
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 your campaign because it has no data (i.e. conversions) to work with.
What can you 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 15-25 per week) you can change the goal back to conversions.
To change this in 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.
#7. Your ads are not relevant to your audience
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).
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 can you do to fix it
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.
4 Ways to Increase Your Relevance Score
- 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.
If you’d like to know more about improving your relevance score, check out our detailed guide here.
#8. Your audiences are overlapping
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 can you 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:
As you can see in the above image, 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, 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.
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?