Where Are My Search Ads?

A common question search marketers often get from clients is: “Why are we unable see our ads when we search for our keywords?” This is a perfectly reasonable inquiry with many possible answers.

If you are concerned about knowing that your ads are, in fact, showing up in searches, the best way to know is to simply look at the numbers. If there is data behind the ads and keywords in your account, they are definitely getting traffic – even though you yourself may not be seeing the ads.

So why, exactly, might you be unable to see them? Here are the reasons why:

  1. Targeting: In order to be as efficient and effective as possible, your campaigns will most likely be set to specific geo-targets, times, and devices. This is done in order to maximize your exposure to the highest quality traffic while minimizing your spend on low conversion areas. Therefore, you might not see your ad because you may be searching from the wrong location or time of day, or you may simply be using a laptop when the campaign has been optimized for mobile devices.
  1. Budgets: Your campaigns have been set to spend a specific amount each day in order to stay within budget. Once your campaigns have spent out their daily budgets, the ads will not be shown again until the following day. No need to worry, though; your ads will be spread out throughout the day and often scheduled for maximum exposure, as mentioned above.
  1. Quality Score: Your Quality Score is calculated by a combination of your click-through rate, relevance of your ad, and landing page quality. When this metric is low, it affects your Ad Rank, and thus your position in search engine results. When this drops, it can sometimes cause your ad to fall below the first page of results. A great way to enhance Quality Score is by improving the quality of your landing page
  1. Impression Share: The keywords you are searching for may simply have a low Impression Share in your account. Impression Share is calculated by the number of impressions an ad receives divided by the number it was eligible to receive. For example, when Impression Share is 40% on the keyword you are searching for, it means your ad will not be shown 60% of the time that you search for it. Again, improving your Quality Score is a good way to improve Impression Share; however, it is important to remember that achieving 100% Impression Share on a keyword is very uncommon.
  1. Ad Fatigue: If a keyword is searched for repeatedly from the same IP address, it is possible to wear out your ads from showing on the SERPs (search engine results pages). This happens when the ad is shown over and over, but is not clicked on, making the search engine think that the content of the ad is not related to your search query. It can cause your impression share to drop significantly, and your ads to stop showing on your device altogether. This is one of the main reasons to avoid searching for your own keywords.

If what you are trying to do is see an example of what your ad looks like in search results, a better way to go about it is by logging into your account and using the Ad Preview Tool (you can also request this from your account managers). This allows you to see a realistic mock-up of your ads without impacting any of your account statistics. As I explained above, searching for your own ads can end up causing problems for your account; this method helps avoid skewing your account’s data.

There are numerous reasons ads may not appear within our own searches. Often, these reasons are data-driven and put in place to make paid media campaigns as effective as possible. At the end of the day, numbers do not lie. If you are getting positive results from your ads, you can rest assured they are being seen by the right people.

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