Why your ads have stalled

4 common reasons why your social ads might not be feeding out, and what you can do to fix them

Person with forehead on laptop and eyes closed
Written By
Emel Rizwani
Published On
October 29, 2020

Why your ads aren’t being served.

The first 3-5 days after you hit publish on a paid social campaign can be… stressful!

First, your ads go off for review, which can take anything from 5 minutes to two days. Then, once your campaign is active, you have to let the algorithm get out there among your target audience to get the measure of it, see what it’s dealing with and assess what it’s going to do. Every time you make an edit, adjustment or tweak, you risk starting that learning process all over again. So you sit and wait. Like Robbie’s angel, contemplating his fate.

Typically, after a while, as your reach and impressions increase, you’ll see your results start to improve. Ideally, your result rate and your cost per result will reduce as your campaign finds its feet and the algorithm starts to optimise. But what if it doesn’t?

What happens if you’re watching absolutely nothing happen? Is it that Meta or LinkedIn don’t want your money? (Unlikely) Is there a glitch in the system? (Very likely) Should you edit something or hold your nerve for a few days more?

Before you panic, here are 4 common reasons why your ads might not be feeding out, and what you can do to fix them.

1. You’re not spending enough

There are literally millions of other advertisers out there and a sizeable chunk of them will want their ads served to the same users that you do.

When curating a user’s feed, Meta will consider which ads look better, which offer the best user experience, and of course, they’ll look at what you want to spend. If the creatives and offers are of a comparable standard, but your competitor outbids you at auction, your ads don’t get delivered.

What can you do?

Review your budget. If your daily spend is less than £20 per ad set, per day, you’re spreading your budget too thin.

2. You’re asking too much of your ads

You have a decent budget and a great offer, and you’re sure that your ads are going out to users with the right interests. But what are you asking of them?

Let’s say you’re asking them to make a purchase. If you’re targeting your ads at users who are familiar with your brand; they know you, like you, have perhaps purchased from you before – these are warm audiences and unless your product is a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, they’re very likely to buy again. Meta won’t find it too difficult to find users among that audience who are likely to convert as a result of being served your ad.

Users who have never heard of your brand, however, are unlikely to be so free with their money or their personal data. These are cold audiences. Unless your product is indispensable and your offer irresistible, you can’t just ask them to make some sort of commitment without warming them up a bit first!

What can you do?

Look at your user’s journey from stranger to customer, and consider what is the most that you can realistically ask of a user at each stage of that journey. From here you can structure your advertising activities as a funnel, asking more of your audiences as they progress through the journey.

3. Your audiences are overlapping

With 9 million active advertisers submitting ads, Meta has to filter them somehow, and it does this using an auction process. Typically, at auction, you would expect the other bidders in the room to be your competitors. Every time you bid against each other, one of you pays more and one of you loses out. But what happens if those other bidders in the auction room turned out to be…. your own ads? Well, one party has to lose out and what you’ll see is those ads falling flat.

What can you do?

Meta’s will alert you if it detects an overlap in the audiences that you’re targeting. But it’s far better to preempt these things using the little-known but highly valuable ‘audience overlap tool’ within Ads Manager. (They really do think of everything don’t they?!)

Go to, select two audiences that you wish to compare and select ‘show audience overlap’. Generally, you want to ensure you have no more than a 30% overlap between audiences, although here at Red Gem we tend to be far more conservative than that.

4. You underestimate the work involved.

It’s fair to say that Meta wants you to advertise. Most business owners will have seen a notification along the lines of “this post did really well – why not spend £50 on a boost and make it go further?!”

Like any decent hook, this is a device to reel you in.

The truth is, it takes time and investment before you can expect to see a real return on your social media ad spend. You need to research your audiences, and you need to test them: test one against another, separate them out by key interest, or where they are in your funnel and test again. The same goes for your offer, your creatives, and even your call to action. A skilled advertiser will learn – through trial, error, continued testing and thorough interrogation of the data – about what your audiences like and respond to in order that your advertising, with time, is optimised to provide an excellent return on your ad spend. There are very few business solutions that can provide a cheap and instantaneous return on investment. Meta is no exception.

What can you do?

Get in touch to learn how Red Gem’s Social Meda Ad Experts can help you bring order to your Ads Manager and achieve a tangible return on your ad spend.

Footnote: this blog was updated to reflect Facebook’s rebrand to Meta.