Why You Can’t See Your Own Ads

Whilst we completely understand that not being able to see your own ads on Google can cause you to panic that something, somewhere, might not be working, it is worth remembering that there is more often than not a perfectly reasonable explanation as to why this is happening.

Somebody Else is Bidding Aggressively.

When it comes to Google Ads, they have a largely auction-based system. Although that is not the only factor, the maximum that you are prepared to pay per click will play a significant part in if and where you ad will appear. As an example, let’s say that we are willing to pay a maximum of 24p per click to appear against the keyword “2014 Ford Focus”. If another agency or car dealer is willing to pay £6 per click, your ad is unlikely to show for that keyword.

Our advice in that situation? Leave them to pay ridiculous bid prices if they choose to do so – they will not be doing it for long!

Your Location.

Although Google may be really good at geo-locational targeting (only showing your ads to people in your area), internet service providers are not quite so great at identifying where you are. Quite often, you will be seen as being located wherever your internet service provider’s main connection is.

Low Search Volume.

If Google deems your keyword to have very low search volume, it will not show your ad.

Low Bids.

Google decides which ad will show depending on a number of factors including your maximum bid price. Google is notorious for inflating these bid prices, often suggesting that you need to bid ridiculous amounts just to appear on page one.

Ad Rank.

Ad rank is a score that Google gives to a keyword. The higher the score, the more likely you are to appear. However, in new accounts particularly, those scores are often artificially low and improve over time.

Eligible (Limited).

Many keywords are the subject of trademarks (in the automotive industry in particular) and so keywords will be flagged as “Eligible (limited)”. This means that Google may prevent certain types of ads from showing in certain regions, to certain ages or on certain devices.

Policy Violations.

Google is under pressure to ensure that ads are safe and do not violate either UK law or their own policies. Keywords are checked by robots rather than humans and so perfectly innocuous keywords are sometimes flagged as dangerous or as violating policy. Below we have listed some examples.

“Gun Metal Grey”

Although this is a common colour, Google hates the word “gun” and often blocks this when it appears in keywords or ad copy.


The automotive industry knows that PCP stands for personal contract purchase. Google, however, thinks this refers to the drug PCP and often blocks your ads.


Semi automatic transmission often gets confused by Google with semi automatic machine guns which are, of course, a different thing altogether.

Your Budget.

If you’ve set a daily budget at say £50 and Google estimates that you could spend £5,000 per day, then it will space out delivery of your ads to ensure you get an even spread throughout the day. This can be a factor particularly when your account is new.

Your Landing Pages Are Poor.

This doesn’t happen very often but Google does audit your landing pages and it may slow down your ad delivery if it feels that your landing pages offer a bad user experience.

Your Ads Are Still Being Approved.

On occasions, Google takes a while to approve all of your ads and so delivery may be slowed down when this happens.

Low Quality Score.

When campaigns are first added to your account, Google makes a judgement on how that ad will perform based on how that keyword may have performed in the past in your account and others. If you have no history, Google will base that score on an estimate. A low estimate may impact your account. You will often see the following message in a new Google Ads account.

Quality Score – Learn more
There aren’t enough impressions or clicks to accurately determine this keyword’s Quality Score.

This is just Google saying it needs some more data to work this one out.

LucyWhy You Can’t See Your Own Ads