Agency Guides, Digital Advertising Why Aren’t My Google Ads Running?

A frustrated digital advertiser, scratching their head.

Sometimes a new Google Ads Search campaign doesn’t run properly, or at all. Here are some reasons why that might be the case.

NOTE: While this post is strictly for Google Search campaigns, some of the reasons may apply to other campaign types.

Campaign Settings

Is your campaign paused, or do you have a start date scheduled for the future?

Ads and Keywords Missing

Did you forgot to include ads or keywords within your campaign?

Lack of Patience

Sometimes Google Ads campaigns start showing ads within hours. Other times it takes two or three days. If you’re within the first 72 hours, be patient, and see if your ads start running tomorrow.

Negative Keywords

If you have negative keywords in place that are directly conflicting with your targeted search keywords, then your ads won’t display.

Budget or Bid Strategy

If your budget is teeny tiny, your ads might not run. There might not be enough of a daily budget to get you even a single click.

If your bid strategy is set to ‘Maximize Conversions’ or ‘Maximize Conversion Value’, AND your budget is small, sometimes Google won’t be able to get you those first few clicks in order to get the data rolling in. Try shifting your bid strategy to ‘Maximize Clicks’ in the early days, just so you can gather some data.

Broken Landing Page

Google will automatically reject your ad if it leads to a landing page that doesn’t exist (i.e. produces a 404 Page Not Found error). You can check the ‘Status’ of your ads to look for these issues, as Google will automatically flag them for you.

Billing Details Not Configured

Did you forget to add a credit card to your account? Maybe your card on file can’t be charged for some reason (credit limit, expired).

Ad Account Not Verified

Google requires all advertisers to verify their account. As of this writing, Google Ads accounts are given a certain grace period in order to get verified, but eventually it becomes a requirement, and unverified accounts will automatically be paused.

Are You Looking at the Right Date Period?

This one is a bit of a forehead slapper when it happens, but make sure you’re looking at an appropriate date range when seeing if your Google Ads have been running properly.


If you use a location that is too small or restrictive, there might not be any relevant activity within that area, so your ads have nobody to show to. Instead of targeting cities or towns, consider targeting a radius around them. Also, be very careful when targeting individual postal codes or zip codes. This can be very restrictive within Google.

Keywords Too Restrictive

This is an unusual one, but if you’re only using exact match keywords, and/or you have a very small number of keywords, there may not be enough specific searches to trigger your ads.

For example, if you’re only using a single keyword, and it’s [new york restaurants near me], then someone will need to type in that exact search (more or less) for your ad to be able to show.

The Best Way to Diagnose Why Your Ads Aren’t Showing

Google Ads has a tool called the ‘Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool’. Here’s how to use it:

  • Login to Google Ads. In the main navigation, along the upper right, click ‘Tools and settings’ and then ‘Ad Preview and Diagnosis’ in the far left column:
  • Set your location. If your ads are only designed to run in certain locations, be sure to set your location to one of them so that you’re within the target geographic area of your campaign.
  • Type in a search term that you know you are targeting.
  • Google will inform you whether your ad showed or not. You should see one of two messages:
  • If you see the ‘Your ad is not showing’ message, read through the details. Google will list the keywords that matched your search, which ad group they’re in, and the reasons why your ad didn’t display. If you see this message, it’s not something to worry about:
  • “Your ad is probably being shown at times, but was not shown for this particular diagnosis.”
  • If there are other reasons why your ad isn’t showing, pay attention, and see if you can fix those issues.

Author Details

author thumbnail image
I’m Robin Eldred, the owner here at Wulver. I’ve worked in digital advertising since the turn of the century. I go way back, and have the digital scars to prove it.