Why Can't I See My Facebook Ads?

“Why Can’t I See My Facebook Ads?”

This blog post, like most I’ve written over the past few years, is a response to a question I get asked often. So far in 2022, I’ve worked for 65 companies; and 16 are companies that tried my services for the first time. The question that spawned this article comes primarily from those new clients.

I actually get the question in three forms:

  1. “Why don’t the ads you created show on my business’ Facebook page?”
  2. “Why can’t I see the Facebook ads you created when I’m on Facebook?”
  3. “Why can’t my seller see my Facebook ads when they’re on Facebook?”

The answer to the first question is the easiest to answer. Unless a client requests me to build a photo album or video post on their Facebook page, I don’t. Facebook doesn’t give much organic (free) distribution of page posts. Promoted posts can be optimized only to those who Facebook’s algorithm knows are likely to like, share, or comment on that post. Neither boosted nor promoted posts can be optimized to distribute to those most likely to click on links and go to my client’s website. Since I’m paid to drive traffic to auctions and find bidders, posts are inefficient vehicles for accomplishing what I’m hired to do. And as you can see in the diagram below, it’s harder to click to a client’s website from a post than from an ad.

Facebook Ads vs Posts Ryan George

In contrast, ads can be optimized for those likely to go to your website. But ads only show in the various feeds of the Meta platform: Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and the Audience Network (Facebook ads on news and entertainment sites—similar to the Google display network). So, the way to see an ad is to be one of the people we’re targeting with the ads.

As with all Meta ads, if a prospect in our targeted audience doesn’t like, comment, share, or click the link in the ads they see, eventually the algorithm determines they’re not interested and moves the ads in front of other viewers. So if you see one of your auction ads in the wild, make sure to engage with it in some way to teach the algorithm to show you them more often.

Another way to see your ads more often is to install a free Facebook tracking pixel on your website. As you post your auctions and review the content on your website, you’ll automatically be included in any audience that targets people who’ve been on your site. That said, being included in an audience doesn’t guarantee you’ll see the ad in question. Facebook rarely saturates an entire audience with ads, because it knows not everyone in that audience will be interested. It doesn’t waste advertisers’ dollars by forcing the issue. (That’s why your cost per click will generally go down the larger the audience is.) Meta’s algorithms are trained by thousands of each user’s online interactions to know what they’ll click on and what they won’t.

For all of these reasons, while I’m building Facebook ads, I screen capture them for my clients to save for their records and/or seller presentations. I see maybe 5% of the ads I create in my own Meta platform feeds. So, I can’t rely on encountering them in the wild. But I don’t worry that Facebook isn’t running them or showing them to the wrong people. I’ve got Facebook’s real-time data reporting that details distribution metrics; and my clients and I can verify enough of that data in Google Analytics to know it’s reliable self-reporting.

There’s mystery, nuance, and uneven results in most, if not all, Facebook advertising. But the same has been true of newspaper advertising for decades. It’s been the case for email marketing since SPAM filters were invented. You can’t know in advance how many and exactly who is seeing TV ads or hearing radio ads, either. We can’t know in advance how many people will see our road signs—let alone if the right drivers will. We don’t know how many people will open an envelope or brochure from a mailbox, either. At least Facebook ads come with live tracking.

I can’t tell an auctioneer why their seller can’t see our ads. What I can tell them is that their seller can see their results.


Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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