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Why Aren't My Ads Showing All the Time?

If we assume you are within your targeted options (Location, Age, Demographic, etc.) and your Ads are scheduled to show at the time you check, the most likely answer to why you don't see your Ad is a combination of your daily Budget, the number of Keywords you have, their CPC (Cost per Click) and their Click through Rate (CTR).


Let's assume you set a budget of $20 a day, you have 20 Keywords, each of which always costs around $1 per click.  In this situation you can only afford 20 clicks per day so Google will attempt to deliver 20 clicks to you.  In order to do this, Google will examine how many times your Keywords could match searches in a day and what your Click-through-Rate (CTR) is.  CTR is the relationship between how often your Ad is shown and how often it is clicked, expressed as a percentage so if your Ad is shown 100 times and clicked 10 times, that's a CTR of 10%.  So, in this example, if there are only 200 searches per day that could match any of your Keywords, then you should get 20 clicks, costing $20 and Google should be showing your Ad virtually every time a search is made.


However, Google gets a lot of searches every day, seriously, a huge number and even for relatively uncommon terms there could be many hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of searches that could match your Keywords, especially if they Broad or Modified Broad match types.  In the above example, even if there were only 2000 searches instead of 200, with a CTR of 10% you could receive 200 clicks - costing $200 - in a day if your Ad was shown for each search so Google can only show your Ad once in every 10 searches.  If there were 20,000 searches per day, it could only be shown once in every 100 searches.


The Impression Share metrics are very useful for examining this problem.  They're not shown in your Account by default so you'll need to customise your Columns and look under "Competitive Metrics".  You can choose to show either the Impression Share itself or the "lost" Impression Share for both Search and Display.  If your Impression Share is not very close to 100% then your Ad is not being shown for every matching search.


So, what can you do?


The simplest solution is to increase your daily budget, but that may not be practical or desirable so there are other things you can do.  You can trim down your Keywords; the more Keywords you have the greater the number of potentially matching searches so reducing the number will allow those remaining a greater share of the budget.  You may need to drop to just 1 or 2 Keywords per Group - the ones that perform the best - to give them a better slice of the budget pie.   Secondly, you might want to consider limiting how often your Ads are shown.  AdWords has the best chance of success when your Ad is shown to every possible person who may have an interest in your product; if you can't afford the budget to do this all day, it's actually better to just do it for - say - 3 hours a day than to show the Ads very rarely throughout the day.  So, for example, rather than having your Ads running all day you could just run them from 9am to midday or 5pm to 8pm - whichever looks like the best option for performance.  You could also consider only running the Ads on certain days of the week rather than every day.


The example I've given above is very simplistic so Ads are not shown in a rigid "once every 10" pattern, AdWords adjusts dynamically throughout your scheduled display period to try and hit your daily budget so you may sometimes see your Ad shown very frequently and hardly at all at other times.  It's important not to search yourself for your own Ads too often because your own searches are influencing how often the Ads are shown.

about Jon Gritton

AdWords Management Consultant, a Google Partner, based in Dorset, UK, but working worldwide... I'm very proud of having been a Top Contributor for AdWords since 2006 and enjoy being able to help others improve and develop their AdWords usage. I now work primarily as an AdWords Manager & Consultant. You can read my eBook "AdWords Preschool", just search on Amazon.