There is nothing more frustrating than laboring in the ads dashboard for hours - only to set your campaign to active, and see no reach at all.
This leads you to wonder - why is my Facebook ad not delivering?
Whether you're running ads to your own offer or you're managing a client's campaign, there is no doubt about it - this sucks. You're left feeling hopeless, as everything seems to be set up just fine - and Facebook support is nowhere to be found when you need them most.
There is a number of different causes for ad delivery issues. From audience issues to account issues, the tricky part is figuring out which of these is responsible for your advertising woes. That's why today, we're going to go over each and every potential culprit to help you fix the problem and get your ads to spend - and thus, start bringing in sales. First things first - let's break down what we mean when we talk about delivery problems.
What Does It Mean When A Facebook Ad Is Active But Not Delivering?
Before we answer your question, "why is my Facebook ad not delivering?", we need to address what exactly this means. This is a situation that occurs where your ads are active, have a sufficient budget, and yet - you aren't getting any reach. Instead, you see "not delivering" where you're used to seeing "delivering" in ads manager.
This can happen to a brand new campaign right from the jump, or it can happen to an existing campaign seemingly out of nowhere. Most often, though, this occurs when you initiate a campaign or make changes to an existing one - a working campaign won't stop delivering on its own. Unless, of course, you've spent the full budget for the day or for the campaign.
As you probably know firsthand from experiencing this issue, lack of delivery and spending can be incredibly frustrating. Don't worry - we're here to help with this in-depth guide of the potential causes. Let's not waste any more time!
Why Is My Facebook Ad Not Delivering - The Most Likely Causes
First and foremost, check the obvious causes - did you actually turn your campaign, ad set, and ads to active? Are you looking at the right date range, or are you looking back at a date prior to your campaign's activation?
These are things you probably already thought to check, but just in case - take another look. As digital marketers, we're constantly being pulled in different directions. It's easy to have a brain fart here and there - and maybe your issue isn't really an issue after all!
But, if everything looks to be dialed in and in place - and yet, you can't get your ads to spend even a cent - there is an underlying problem somewhere. And we're going to help you uncover it. Let's start by talking about problems with your audience settings.
Your Audience Settings Are Causing Delivery Issues
One of the most common culprits for a lack of delivery is your audience. If you're not targeting a broad enough audience - specifically, over 1,000 users - Facebook won't deliver your ads. Why? The idea is that Facebook doesn't want to allow you to bombard its users with ultra-targeted, specific ads. Users will view this as creepy. So, they require broader audiences. And if you don't meet that threshold, then your ads won't deliver - simple as that.
Usually, Facebook's ad manager will warn you if your audience is too small to spend. You'll see something along the lines of:
"Your audience is too specific for your ads to be shown - Try making it broader" or look for "Potential Reach: Fewer than 1,000 people".
If either of these warnings is displayed, it's a telltale sign you need to broaden your audience. Now, you might be thinking to yourself - "my audience isn't too broad, what's the deal?" The fact of the matter is your audience might be broader than you realize - here are two ways this can happen:
- You're targeting an interest or custom audience with too few people in it (most common). If you uploaded a list of people hoping to build a custom audience, it could be that you didn't add enough people - or that Facebook was unable to match them effectively.
- Your exclusions are removing too large of a chunk of your audience. If you try to narrow down your audience too much, you could end up with too few people to deliver an ad.
The fix here is pretty self-explanatory - try broadening your audience! You can click expand targeting to reach more people. Or, if you're targeting interests - try stacking a few to get over that threshold. You can even stack custom audiences if necessary. Whatever you do, just make sure you're targeting more people than before and see if that was in fact the culprit for your lack of delivery.
Your Ad Creative Is Causing Delivery Issues
The second most likely culprit for delivery issues on Facebook's ad platform? Issues with your ad creative. Just as with the audience targeting, Facebook is very strict with the type of creatives they let you run with.
Most of the time, Facebook will straight up disapprove your ads - which will clear up any confusion as to why your ads aren't delivering. But let's face it - sometimes, Facebook drops the ball. They may not disapprove your ads altogether - instead, they just will limit your campaign until you've fixed the issue. So, you should check to see if the following issues could apply to your ad creatives:
- Excessive text to image ratio: If you use too much text in your ads, it can be seen as spammy - and your ads may not deliver. The rule of thumb is to keep your text under 20% of your image. If you go over 20%, your ads will be disapproved or just won't get spent. If you're not sure exactly how much of your ad is taken up by text, there are tools that can help you.
- Ads are flagged for discrimination: Facebook seeks to protect its users from discrimination - understandably. If they feel that your ad copy or creative is discriminatory, it won't get delivered to your audience - simple as that. This means you need to be careful with the copy you use in special categories like housing, dating, politics, age, etc.
- Ads are flagged for being offensive or obscene: This one is pretty obvious - if Facebook thinks your ads creative or copy is offensive or obscene, they will disapprove or limit it. This means no nudity (even shirtless men can sometimes get flagged), no profanity, etc.
There is no doubt about it - sometimes, Facebook wrongfully disapproves or flags ads. But the vast majority of the time, they do so for a good reason. It's up to you to determine if it's worth going back and forth submitting your ads for review or making changes to adhere to their guidelines.
Your Budget or Bidding Strategy Is Causing Delivery Issues
We started this section by saying that you should first check that your ad still has a budget before wasting your time with further diagnosis. But, even if your ad has a budget remaining - it could still be an issue with budget or bidding strategy preventing delivery. Let us explain.
As media buyers, we're all about profitability. Your goal is to spend as little as possible to acquire customers or leads. Sometimes, this means setting a very specific bid or budget to prevent unprofitable campaigns from getting out of control. But there are instances where this can do more harm than good. If you think you're going to game the system by setting your bid to a ridiculously low cost, Facebook simply won't deliver your ads.
Say you set a campaign up and set a budget of $1 for the entire campaign. Or, perhaps you set a larger budget of $50 - but a bid cap of $0.50, hoping to earn conversions at less than a dollar each. Facebook will only work with what you give it - meaning they'll only deliver ads in situations where they can earn you the conversions you want at the parameters you've set. What this translates to, is Facebook will never deliver your ads - because you're not going to get conversions for less than a dollar (most of the time - unless you're giving something away for free, that is).
So, if you suspect that maybe you're trying to get too strict with budget or bidding, loosen things up a bit. Add a larger budget, set a higher bid cap. That will likely turn the faucet on a bit and you'll start to see some spend.
Your Ads Are Not Engaging Enough To Earn Delivery
The last potential cause for delivery problems we want to talk about is issues with engagement. The reason we're covering this one last is that it takes a lot more work to rectify. Whereas the first three causes of facebook ad delivery problems are as simple as a few minor tweaks, this one will require a complete overhaul of your campaign or ad in some instances.
What does engagement mean, first of all?
Engagement speaks to how people interact with your ad on Facebook. As you can probably imagine, it is in Facebook's best interest to deliver ads that its users will actually find interesting, relevant, or helpful. If you satisfy those criteria, the platform will reward you with delivery. If not, your ads don't deliver. Simple as that. So, how is engagement determined? In the ads dashboard, you'll see three aspects that speak to how your ads are received by users: Quality Ranking, Engagement Rate Ranking, and Conversion Rate Ranking.
Quality ranking speaks to the perceived quality of your ad. Facebook ranks your quality based on user feedback along with the post-click experience of your ads (landing page). Engagement rate ranking, on the other hand, is Facebook's estimation of how likely users are to engage with your ad. If users are not likely to click, like, comment, share, or otherwise interact with your ad, you'll earn a low engagement rate ranking. Finally, conversion rate ranking speaks to how likely your ads are to convert users into customers/leads.
Facebook ranks these metrics in one of three ways: average, below average, or above average. Your ads are ranked against similar ads competing for the same audience. If you earn below-average rankings across the board, it may result in a lack of delivery. The solution? One of two things: tweak your ads to earn better engagement, or tweak your audience to deliver your ads to a more relevant group.
Final Thoughts On Facebook Ad Delivery Issues
If you find yourself asking "why is my Facebook ad not delivering?", you now know that there are a range of potential causes. It will take a bit of digging around the ads manager to determine the root cause of the issue. Fortunately, we've covered all the likely culprits so you can quickly remedy the problem. Here is a quick summary of the most likely culprits and their fixes:
- Too small of a target audience: broaden your target audience to reach a larger group of people.
- Ad creative is limited or disapproved: tweak your ad copy or creative to achieve ad spend.
- Your budget or bidding strategy is restrictive: add budget and increase your bid - don't try and game the system to earn cheap conversions. Let the algorithm do its thing.
- Your ads are falling short in terms of quality, engagement, or conversion: you'll need to rethink your ads or your audience to increase your scores in these three metrics.
Looking for additional Facebook ads tips? Check out some of our related articles, such as our deep dive on Facebook CBO or Facebook detailed targeting expansion.
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