By far, the most common question we are asked by clients and prospects alike is “why can’t I see my ad in Google?” We understand it can be disconcerting to search for your own brand or most important keyword and not see your ad.  Don’t panic, just because you don’t see your ad doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong with your campaign.

There are a great number of reasons why your ad may not be showing up for you in Google. First, it is important to remember that if you have recently searched for your own ads and not clicked on them, that Google may not to show you those ads again for a while. This is part of their algorithm that ensures “fresh” ads are displayed in order to maximize click-through-rate for advertisers.

For this and other reasons, it is best practice to test your ads using Google’s Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool. This eliminates the “freshness” issue and a plethora of other reasons why you may not see your own ads using regular a Google Search query.

Are you using the tool and still not seeing your ads?  We’ll break down the MANY possible reasons into three categories:

Technical Issues

If your ad really isn’t running at all it could be due to common technical issues with your account, campaign, ad or keywords. To be thorough, you or your agency should check each of the items below. That said, a shortcut is to go into AdWords and select “today” from the date menu. Look at impressions for the keyword(s) of interest. If you see activity there (any number > 0) it is likely everything is running normally.

Here’s a check list of technical reasons why your ad may not be running for a given keyword:

1. Credit hold due to invalid payment method or failure to make a manual payment (if you are not on auto payment)

2. Keyword, ads, ad group, or campaign paused

3. Account or ads are not approved or pending review

4. Keyword bid is below first page – ads for your keyword will run but not appear often

5. Very low quality score for keyword

If everything checks out it is possible that you don’t fit targeting criteria when you’re searching for your own ad:

Targeting Issues

If you are not within the target audience you are not going to see your own ads. Check if the following are true:

1. You are within the geographical targeting area indicated in campaign settings; check both “target” and “exclude” settings.

2. Your device type is being targeted. If you are on a mobile device and mobile bids are set to -100% in campaign settings you will not see your ads. If you are on a PC verify that you don’t exclusively have mobile ads set up in the target ad group.

3. You are searching at a time when the campaign is active. Check your campaign schedule settings to ensure that you are searching during a time the campaign is active. Remember, also, that if you are in a different time zone than the account setting you need to account for the time shift.

Still not seeing your ads check the following:

Bids, Adjustments & Budgets

Once you’ve verified everything above you should be valid target to see your own ads. Yet, there are still a several reasons why you may not see your ads.

1. Low keyword position. If your keyword bid is resulting in an average ad position that’s low on the page (say below 6th position) it is likely that your ad will not appear on page 1 for every search query.

2. Auto bidding and/or Enhanced CPC is turned on. While these automated features can benefit campaign performance they do so by dynamically raising and lowering ad placement for a given keyword. If your average keyword position is too low to regularly appear on page 1 this might be the culprit.

2. Bid Adjustments dropping keyword bid below page 1. If you have bid adjustments set up for devices, schedules, and/or geo targets – one or more of them (in combination) may be dropping your adjusted keyword bid below the page 1 threshold.

3. Daily budget Limited. If you see a message next to your campaign that says “Limited by budget” or if you are approaching your daily target ad spend each day your ads will not run for every search query. In cases where you approach or hit your daily budget, Google will spread out placement of your ad over the course of the day to attempt to hit your target spend. Also check to see if you have accelerated delivery turned on in campaign settings; if you do then your ads may only be running for part of the day.


There are a multitude of reasons why you may not see your own ad when you search Google. Assuming you see recent keyword impressions you can probably rest easy that everything is okay. Remember that you should always use Google’s Ad Preview and Diagnosis tool when checking your ads; this eliminates Google ad “freshness” and other real world search issues.

Google provides a great trouble shooting tool that covers most of the situations outlined in this article. Failing that, Google offers great telephone and IM support for AdWords.

Still having trouble seeing your own ad and would like help with your Google AdWords account? Learn about our Google AdWords management services.