Why are my Google Ads not showing

This is the most asked question once an account goes live, why are my Google ads not showing? Didnt we specify that we want our ads to appear on the first page?

We understand our clients' anxieties and want to explain here why ads dont show all the time.


Budget used up

This is the most common reason, simply being text ads on Google search work on only pay per click model (Google Display network allow CPM, i.e. cost per thousand display of ad).  Once the budget runs out or is close to running out, Adwords has to fulfil its promise that the daily budget will never exceed by 20% (this is called overdelivery) e.g. if daily budget is $10, then max cost per day is $12 but monthly budget will never exceed 30.4 (average number of days in a month) times daily budget.


Budget is constrained

Lets say your keywords can receive 5000 searches per day, and average cost per click is $1 and average click through rate is 1%.  Hence per day your keywords can receive 5000*0.01=50 clicks, and at $1 per click will cost you $50 in all.  Suppose your budget is $10, so Adwords cant possibly show your ads all the time.

In this case, Adwords will show your ads occasionally maybe around one fifths ($10 of $50) of the time to ensure your daily budget is maintained.  Hence if you try to key in your keywords into Google and find that your Google Ads are showing, if we set ad rotation to be evenly spread throughout the day.  There is another option to show the ads as quickly as possible till budget is used up, however we will not be able to get insights into which parts of the day works better for your account.

For the screenshot below, we can see the "Search lost IS (budget)" is 41.92%.  This means 41.92% of the time that ads are eligible, the budget is constrained/used up hence the ads do not get to show.

impression share


Low Ad Rank

Google Adwords decides how to rank ads based on Ad Rank, the higher the Ad rank the higher in the page they get to be shown.  The two most important factors are Quality Score and the bid for that keyword.  Quality score measures the relevancy of keywords/ads/website to the search query typed in by the visitor.  From the above screenshot, we can see "Search Lost IS (rank)" mean 14.08% of ad impressions are lost because the Ad Rank is low.  This can be due to low bid or quality score.  Assuming most competitors quality score is quite similar, the factor that affects is the low bid.  Hence if the ranking is more than 11 (3 ads at the top, 8 at the side for Google), then the Google ads not showing problem surface again.


Competitor's bids are higher for that auction

Google adwords actually run an auction to determine where to place each ad for every search query entered.  Google allows automatic bidding, meaning it will try to get as many clicks as possible and sometimes restricted to a max cost per click that the advertiser is willing to pay.  So if for that particular auction, there are several competitors' bids that went higher (to get the clicks), your ad can possibly get pushed so much past the top 11 ad places that it does not show on first page of search results.  This will happen less often for advertisers that are bidding higher and normally appear at the top of the results page.


Yahoo and Bing differences

This is off topic, but on Yahoo and Bing though they have merged their ad platform to be on Bing Adcenter, keywords that show on Yahoo might actually not show on Bing!  This came as a surprise to us and we thought their targeting works similarly on both platforms.  Referring to the screenshot below, we actually experience that a keyword that triggers an ad to appear on Yahoo actually doesnt on Bing.  This is normally keyword match types on Google Adwords and Google doesnt treat them as duplicate keywords.  (well Bing ads can certainly make you frustrated very frequently)

These are the most common reasons why are your Google ads not showing for the moment.  Share us your thoughts below if there are other reasons encountered.