This is probably the post I've seen the most often on the Community Forum. It's understandable--you loaded up your new campaign, it all seems to be approved, so you rush over to the Google search page and type in a query, waiting eagerly to see your own ad show up--there on the internet, for everyone to see!
It's not there! You search again. It's still not there! You try another search, using different words. Your ad still isn't there!
You know what? Don't do that.
Few, if any, advertisers can afford access to 100% of their available search traffic. When your ad is triggered, you want it to be triggered by a customer.
You should get into the habit of using the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool (on the Tools and Analysis tab) to run 'live' searches for ads. The AP&D tool mirrors the same results a 'live' search on Google would produce at that moment, but without affecting your campaign's performance or stats, or losing your ad a chance to be seen by a customer.
Second, many factors determine which ads show on which searches. Campaign daily budget, keyword match type, geographic targeting, keyword bid, ad rank, search query, campaign daily spending cap, and a lot of other factors.
I'd guess that the main reason advertisers don’t see their own ads when they search for them (in either the tool or in the 'live' environment) is campaign daily budget. Because their ads aren't eligible for every search on their keywords during a day.
Most campaigns participate in a only percentage of the available ad auctions, based on how many clicks the campaign can afford in a day.
(By the way, this is an even better reason never to search in the live environment for your own ads. If your small business's budget can only afford access to 25% of the traffic available in a day--do you really want to waste an impression on yourself? If, when you do see your ad, the customer who searches thirty seconds later doesn't get the chance to?)
The fact that you don't see your ad at some specific instant during the day doesn't mean it's not active. Have you tried running diagnostics?
I'd start with the keyword instant diagnostic--go to the Keywords tab of the campaign, find the Status column, and the little "talk balloon" graphic. Hover your cursor over it for each keyword to see if there are quality score, relevance, or landing page problems. This message will also confirm if the keyword is active to trigger ads at that precise moment--a much better measure of "is my ad showing" than searching for it yourself.
You should also use the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool (on the Tools and Analysis tab). Put in the correct information for the campaign and run the diagnostic. Not only will it show you what your ad looks like on the SERPs (search engine results pages) if it's eligible to be shown at that moment, but this tool tests slightly different things than the Keyword diagnostic.
If there's a problem, one or both of these tools should find it. Then you'll know what to work on to get your ads performing.
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