Reasons Why Your Facebook Ads Campaign is not Performing/ Spending

There are many occasions when we feel that the Facebook Ads campaign should start performing but it does not perform at all or does not spend effectively the way we want it. There could be multiple reasons for that. Some reason could be in your control and some reasons could be out of your control. Let us dive into each of those reasons to see why your Facebook Ads Campaigns are not performing well.

This is the most common reason why your campaign is not performing. There are various aspects of Facebook Campaign and a not proper targeting could limit any of these aspects which in turn results in a campaign with almost no or limited performance.

Audience Saturation/ Limited Reach

Sometimes Overly Narrow Targeting can limit your reach and result in the saturated audience. Here is a screenshot from such an AdSet:

Audience Saturation on Facebook

If you look at the above data, this AdSet has spent only around $1300 and reached only 739 with lifetime frequency around 37.

Reasons for Audience Saturation

  • Overly narrow targeting
  • Limited Geography
  • Limited Spend
  • Limited Placements
  • Limited Interests or Targeting Method
  • Audience overlap from other AdSets targeting the same audience

You can find Audience Saturation of an Adset by clicking on Inspect below the AdSet name at the AdSet level.

Inspect button at AdSet level

How to Address Audience Saturation?

  • New Lookalike Audience: Combine the audience list with as much data as possible to create a new custom audience. Based on which create new sets of lookalike audience.
  • Avoid Audience Overlap: Have a separate audience list for each campaign.
  • Make sure that your AdSet reach is at least in 100,000s to avoid the limited reach
  • Remove common targeting from AdSet level targeting such as common interests
  • Add More placements in AdSet or switch to Automatic Placement
  • Broaden AdSets Interests
  • Exclude Leads

Auction Competition

Another common issue that your Facebook campaign stops performing or Cost per Acquisition goes much up is because of the increase in the competition. When you run an ad set, it gets entered into many auctions with other ad sets that are trying to reach the same target audience. The winner of each auction gets to show an ad to someone in that target audience.

Some times of day/week/month/year are more competitive than others. Competition means that many advertisers are trying to reach the same people and are willing to pay more to do so. When this happens, you may have trouble spending your budget or have to pay a higher cost per result.

Auction Competition gone up

In the above screenshot, you can see that the auction competition has gone up (Circled Blue line). Other than that, you can also notice that the moving average of cost per lead has also gone up overall since the time period when auction competition went up. This could be because many advertisers are trying to reach the same people and are willing to pay more to do so. When this happens, you may have trouble spending your budget or have to pay a higher cost per result.

Auction Competition increase use cases:

During festivals or special seasons, many advertisers broaden their targeting. For example, you might be targeting the people who are interested in just fishing but during summer, the same people could also get targeted by resorts, hotel, fishing companies, and whatnots.

Addressing Increased Auction Competition

  • Monitor your competitor’s activities. In the next section, you will see how to monitor your competitor’s activity in a simple way.
  • Is this a festive or special season such as back to school, thanksgiving day, etc. ?
  • Shift your budget from top of funnel campaigns to middle/ bottom of funnel campaigns such as shifting budget from interests targeting to remarketing and lookalike targeting

Monitor Your Competitors

Let us say, I am running Facebook ads for the online doctors & prescription services in Canada and I know that some of my competitors are Rexall, Get Maple, etc. So, I find their Facebook pages and view the page transparency.

Page Transparency

Once you click on “See More” option on Page Transparency, you will see an option to go to their Ads Library at the bottom, as shown below:

Competitors Facebook Ads Library option

Once you enter the Ads library, you can see the kind of ads your competitors have recently started to run. From the ad copies, you can guess their targeting parameters and find out if your competitors could be one of the reasons why the performance of the campaign has decreased recently. Be mindful that Facebook might not show you entire ads and spent is not accurate.

Limited Initial Learning

Sometimes we force Facebook to go into the learning phase with limited reach. On top of that, we often force the platform to have repetitive learning of campaigns with a similar objective. Before we dive further into this, let us see how Facebook initial learning works.

Initial learning Period

When Facebook starts delivering your ad set, it does not have all the data to make the delivery a stable delivery. It can happen either at the start of the campaign or after an edit made to the AdSet. To provide stability to the AdSet delivery, Facebook shows ads to different types of people to learn who is most likely to get you optimization events. This process is called the “learning phase.”

Once Facebook has enough data about the AdSet, your ad set can experience fewer performance fluctuations. At this point, you can make an informed decision about your ad set. If you’re satisfied with your results, you can let it keep running or increase its budget. If you’re unsatisfied, you can edit the ad set to try to improve its performance or pause it. However, there is more to it as the initial learning period is also dependent on the AdSet optimization Event and conversion Window.

Optimization Event and conversion window

Facebook says that “Your ad set needs about 50 optimization events after starting to run or since the last significant edit to complete the learning phase.”

Also, if your conversion window is a 7-day click, the 50 or so conversions you need all have to happen within 7 days of the click that led to them. This means that ad sets with longer conversion windows can need more time to complete the learning phase since they’re likely promoting products or services that have longer consideration times.

Limited Initial Learning Example

AdSet Learning

The above sets of AdSet are a perfect example of limited initial learning. Here is how.


  • Daily budget is too high for each AdSet but the AdSets are unable to spend the budget
  • In this case, the optimization event is Mobile App Installs
  • Conversion Window for Mobile App Installs on Facebook is 1 day. That means the AdSet needs to have around 50 optimization events aka mobile app installs within the conversion window aka 1 day in order to gather enough data to provide stability to the AdSet.


  • Let us look at what is wrong with the AdSets.
  • The AdSets have been very scattered in this case. Each individual Interests have been mapped to each AdSet. For example, the company level interests such as company CEO, company employee, company interests are in the separate Adsets. Similarly, different lookalike audience has been mapped to different AdSets.
  • Thinning out AdSets also thins out the audience. Thinning out the audience can result in limited reach. Limited reach, in turn, delay AdSet learning. Delayed or limited learning does not make campaign performance stable. It all boils down to right campaign and AdSet mapping.
  • Such thinned our AdSets structure could be a major reason why your facebook ads budget are not being spent

Campaign & AdSet Setup Rule

  • AdSets with similar optimization events should be clubbed under the same campaign unless otherwise.
  • Similar AdSets should be put under the campaign with a common campaign objective. For more details on Facebook Optimization, read our Facebook optimization guide.

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