In this article, we'll go through some tips that can help you diagnose and find action steps when your ads have very little or no delivery, especially leading towards holiday season advertising.
Facebook advertising is no more something only innovators and early adopters do. Thus, competition and bid prices on the ad auction are getting higher as the market share grows, especially for mobile. In addition, Facebook is raising the competition level. Facebook wants to provide the most enjoyable experience possible for users, and decreasing the number of ads is one way to do that.
The growing number of advertisers is one reason for the tougher competition. The quality of ads, more automated ad creation, Facebook’s algorithm changes and the increasing knowledge level of advertisers make it more difficult to win auctions on Facebook.
Generally: if you can’t spend your whole daily budget, the easiest fix is to increase your bid. If that does not help, and your ads simply aren't spending as they should, read the rest of this article.
Check the reporting timeframe
- If you are using a custom reporting timeframe, it may be that the range is outside of the delivery time of your campaign.
- If you are using Last 3 days, Last 5 days, etc. you are also missing Today. More information here
Is the campaign start date in the future? Are ad sets and ads active?
- If your campaign is starting tomorrow, you obviously won't get any delivery. Pay attention to the timezone of the ad account. It may start at 12:00 Los Angeles time, while you may be sitting in Singapore.
- The campaign status icon shows as Not delivering if there are no
- active ad sets in the campaign
- active ads inside active ad sets
- Check that the ads are approved. It can take up to 48 hours for ads to be reviewed by Facebook.
- Account Spend Limit: If your account has spent more than 90% of its spend cap, we show a notification. If the Spend Cap is exhausted, your campaigns will look like they are running, but won't spend anything. You can reset the Account Spend Limit in Ads Manager.
- Ad account disabled: Facebook can disable your ad account when they suspect policy violations, failure to process payments, or security issues. If this happens, you will see a notification. You can appeal via this form.
- Campaign Spend Cap
- It's possible to set a Spend Cap for a campaign. If the cap is exhausted, the campaign won't deliver despite being "running". Edit the campaign to adjust the Spend Cap.
- Is Dayparting or Daily Budget Pacing on?
- Smartly.io's Dayparting pauses and runs the campaign based on a schedule, so it is easy to notice. However, Facebook's Daily Budget Pacing prevents the campaign from delivering during some hours of the day, without changing the status. Check that your campaign is not using Daily Budget Scheduling (instructions here).
- Furthermore, if one of these features limits the delivery too much, Facebook might not be getting enough data, which might hurt performance and therefore delivery.
- Dynamic Ads campaigns: check if there are a lot of rejected products in the promoted product set
- Click Show promoted products on the ad set to see a list of products and their review statuses. If a large number of products are rejected, you can appeal to Facebook through the link provided, or adjust your product feed to avoid disapproved content.
- You can also download the whole list of rejected products as a CSV file from the catalog view.
- Dynamic Ads campaigns: check if the original images in your catalog fulfill the requirements for each placement.
- A common cause for delivery issues is that the original images in your catalog are too small for Facebooks requirements. For example, Instagram requires images to be at least 600px by 315px (source).
- It's not enough that your Image Templates meet the size requirement. The original Image Link field in the catalog needs to contain a large enough picture.
- Campaign may be using a wrong Pixel
- All of the following Pixel IDs should match:
- Pixel ID in Account Settings → Pixels
- Pixel ID on your website: use Meta Pixel Helper to check the ID
- If Optimization Goal is Offsite Conversions, the Pixel ID used in the optimization settings. Instructions: see which Pixel your Ad Set is using for optimization
- If these 3 Pixel IDs don't match, Facebook will not be getting any conversions, and will stop delivering conversion-optimized ads.
- All of the following Pixel IDs should match:
Look at individual ad sets
If there are many ad sets, the audiences and budgets are divided. This may limit delivery because Facebook then has less ability to pace the delivery over the day, bid optimally and "cherrypick" the most likely converters.
- Audience sizes — Big audiences will get more delivery, We recommend hundreds of thousands, preferably 1million+ for conversion optimization (depending on what you want to do). The larger the audience, the longer your campaign can last. Think of it as depleting the audience from likely converters. It's recommended to not aim to reach the whole audience, but rather keep it large enough to let Facebook find the converters through their optimization.
- Targeting — If you are using lowest cost bidding (previously known as automatic bidding), and your ad sets don't have country targeting selected, it is possible that Facebook is not able to increase the maximum bid inside the lowest cost bidding and thus your ad sets are not performing. The lowest cost bidding caps CPMs at ‘market rates’, to make sure that the advertisers' CPMs don't rise exponentially.
- Number of conversions — If less than 15-20/week, delivery may be limited by Facebook as algorithms need 15-20 conversions per week (previously Facebook required 20-25 daily conversions). The amount of conversions is a guideline, but the more conversions you have, the better delivery you are likely to get. Facebook advises focusing on the conversion rate for individual ads which should be higher than 0.5%, preferably over 1%.
- Optimization goal — Aim to optimize towards the actual end goal (e.g. purchases). If you're not getting enough conversions on a weekly basis, consider combining ad sets. If you change the goal higher in the funnel and then back deeper, the learnings will be reset each time you change the goal – previously it was thought that some learnings would carry over after the changes, but this does not seem to see the case (see e.g. About the Facebook delivery system: Learning phase) If you get a lot of late conversions, it is recommended to edit the conversion window.
- Budget amount — Check that you have not already depleted your lifetime budget. If the budget per Ad Set is small, Facebook's pacing will not be able to bid high with Lowest Cost bidding, or the true bid in Facebook's ad auction may not be very high. If a purchase CPA would is $5, daily budget should be $125 at minimum ($5 x 25). If you are bidding, say, $10 for a purchase conversion, a recommended daily budget is $250+ daily per Ad Set.
- Bid amount — Try choosing a higher Bid Cap. If you are using Lowest Cost bidding without a Bid Cap, try adding a high Bid Cap.
- Use the Inspect Tool in Ads Manager to check if your Ad Sets' delivery is limited by bid. If yes, the bid should be increased. Not available for Dynamic Ads campaigns: you may require contacting Facebook Support directly, if this is assumed to be the likely cause.
- If you struggle to get delivery with Lowest Cost bidding (previously known as "automatic bidding") – change to Lowest Cost bidding with a Bid Cap and choose a higher bid cap. This should be done:
- With a small audiences
- With a poor relevance score
- With a very high CPA (sometimes entering high bid cap can give you better CPA than without the bid cap because of the increased delivery)
- When you have not specified country/a few countries in targeting since Facebook cannot calculate the market rate it utilizes for Lowest Cost bidding
- Billing Event in bidding — are you charged for impressions or actions? The "pay per action" billing event might be more wary to deliver when you have low budgets or Facebook can't reach your CPA goal. This is because Facebook does not want to risk delivering the ad without being paid for it. Try switching the billing event to "impressions".
- Timeframe and how long Campaign has been active — Has the Ad Set timeframe started already? If it's the first day of the campaign lifetime, stats might be delayed, or the ads need more time to ramp up.
- Check that the Ads are approved and active — Sometimes, but rarely, ads may get stuck in approval phase. If that's the case, contact Facebook here.
- Check that the post exists in Facebook — Sometimes the post has been (accidentially) removed from Facebook and there is no longer anything to advertise. Check that you can still access the post.
Other possible explanations
- Delivery is low
- If the campaign had poor performance at some point, it might affect future delivery. If this happens, we suggest relaunching the campaign.
- If it is holiday season (Singles' Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, or so on), your usual bids may no longer be high enough. Increase bids a lot!
- If optimizing for website conversions, try increasing the conversion window to 7 days.
- Use Facebook's Inspect tool, to check for (not available for Dynamic Ads campaigns, may require contacting Facebook, if below items are a likely cause):
- Audience saturation
- Auction overlap
- Auction Competition
- Check for audience overlap and either consolidate or refine the overlapping audiences
- No delivery at all
- For Dynamic Ads campaigns, Facebook might automatically pause your ads if they detect a large number of disapproved products in your catalog
- For Dynamic Ads campaigns, Facebook might also pause your ads if the promoted product set is empty. Make sure there is no sudden drop in the number of uploaded products in your product catalog's product feeds.
- For Dynamic Ads campaigns, your original images in the catalog might be too small for the configured placement. For example, the minimum image size for Instagram Feed is 600px by 315px.
- If all else fails, and there is zero delivery, there may be something technically wrong. Contact Smartly.io support in that case.
Facebook Help Center: Best Practices for Meta Ad Delivery
Facebook Help Center: Troubleshooting ad performance (for general performance tips)
Facebook flowchart: Avoid under-delivery (2017)
Smartly.io e-book: 3-STEP GUIDE to Preventing Ad Delivery Issues on Facebook (2015, below)