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Top 9 Facebook Ad Performance Issues & Solutions: Troubleshoot Your Campaigns

Your Facebook ad campaigns are underspending, not delivering, or just underperforming. What's next? How can you fix them? Here are the top 9 issues with Facebook Ads and solutions that can help you troubleshoot tricky or underspending campaigns today and solve the issues your ads might be facing.

Ian Cameron
By Ian Cameron   |  

 Feb 13, 2019

Top 9 facebook ad performance issues & solutions

It's a new year and you're searching for ways to revive your Facebook ad campaigns. It might seem impossible to determine why your campaigns are underspending, overspending, not delivering, or just under-performing but the truth of the matter is there are several things to look out for when your Facebook paid ads aren't doing so well.

Here are the top 9 issues with Facebook Ads and solutions that can help you troubleshoot tricky or underspending campaigns today and solve the issues your ads might be facing.


Issue #1: Your Ad Sets Are in a Bidding War (With Themselves)

There are several schools of thought when it comes to Ad Account structure but if you’re a veteran at social ads, with a keen eye for logic, the first thing to look at for when Ad Sets are underspending is at your Ad Account structure.

Campaigns should target (most of the time) a single objective and Ad Sets should target an audience segment within that objectiveAds within the Ad Sets only have different images and copy, but they do not differ in other ways.

What can sometimes happen with Ad Sets is that you get your audience targeting all kinds of messed up and accidentally create overlapping audiences — whether this is through using Custom Audiences triggered by interactions with your posts or simply accidentally overlapping some Core Audiences.

Within Campaigns, Facebook will allow you to make multiple Ad Sets with the same audience targeting. If you do this, there is the potential for your Ad Sets to compete for space at auction. Effectively, you’ll be bidding against yourself for space and artificially drive up your costs-per-click (CPCs). If you have a bid cap set too, your Ad Sets may never deliver at all because you've driven costs up beyond your bid.

take my money

Solution: Avoid letting your Ad Sets compete for the same audience at the same time. If they have the same audience and the same objective, run different ads within the Ad Set rather than separate ads. If you have overlapping audiences but want to use different ad formats, run different Campaigns and consider whether you should be running these ads at the same time or sequentially or using custom audiences to recapture engagement from one Ad Set and use that audience in another (while excluding them from targeting).

Issue #2: Underspending Because of a Lifetime Budget

This one is kind of tricky to get your head around but think about it this way:

  1. You’ve set a lifetime budget of $4000 over a 4-week period.
  2. You left your delivery set at standard delivery with no bid cap and a lowest target cost

Facebook will optimize your budget across 4 weeks to make sure that the money is not consumed in under 4 weeks. Great, right? But life doesn’t always work that way, and a slight underspend on Facebook can turn into a cumulative problem.

So, maybe your campaign underspends in the first 2 weeks and you correctly identify the messaging needs adjusting because you have a low relevancy score — you duplicate and adjust your ads, sit back, and wait.

Fixed, right? Not necessarily. Your campaign will probably still underspend by the end of the 4 weeks if you don’t make other adjustments. This is mostly because Facebook is still optimizing the budget over a 4-week lifetime budget.

Solution: The main change that’s going to make all the difference is to switch your delivery type to accelerated delivery to use up some of your spare budget. Speed up the spend and encourage Facebook to get rid of the budget faster to improve performance. You only have a limited time to spend this budget so encouraging a faster spend will help ad performance.

Accelerated Delivery Facebook Ads

Issue #3 Your Budget is Spread Equally Across Several Ad Sets

I appreciate this one doesn’t sound like a problem but think of it this way:

  1. You have 3 Ad Sets and;
  2. You have a daily budget of $200 a day for the campaign. 

Left as-is, Facebook will split this Campaign budget into 3 allowing for an equal spend.

If you’re an old hat to this you know not all Ad Sets are made equally, and one of those 3 Ad Sets will likely eat through its budget faster than the others. This Ad Set isn't a failure — in fact it's performing fantastically, which is exactly why it's using up money. It might even run out of budget, while the other two struggle to spend money and see results.

Solution: What can you do to push money into that great Ad Set without manually adjusting budgets and turning off Ad Sets? The answer is Campaign Budget Optimization. This method of optimization spreads spends depending on performance, pushing budget into high performing ad sets automatically meaning your money goes directly where it should.

This is as simple as checking a box available to most advertisers at the Campaign level. It isn’t appropriate for everyone — but this works really well for campaigns with a conversion focus.

Campaign Budget Optimization Facebook Ads


  • If you're using a lowest cost bid strategy without a bid cap, all Ad Sets within the Campaign must have the exact same Ad Delivery optimization. This is not necessary if you have a bid cap or target cost, however.
  • You cannot use accelerated delivery with this option and you cannot use ad scheduling with this option.
  • This won’t work well with ad sets that have significantly different targeting within the same campaign. The same is true of Ad Sets that have vastly different audience sizes. So, using this optimization is a fine line because your audiences need to be different enough so as not to compete against one another but similar enough that Facebook can reassign budget.

Issue #4: You’ve Got Your Bid Strategy All Kinds of Wrong

Deciding Your Bid Strategy Can Be Hard.

There are a lot of different options when it comes to spend, and to be honest this one has the most potential to be messed up while simultaneously being the most powerful option at your fingertips.

Spend limits (minimum and maximum) often decrease flexibility, which can lead to underspend, but they are very useful if you are using lowest cost campaign bid strategy and have specific budget requirements for an ad set — for example, maybe you’re trying a new audience out and want to set a minimum spend to make sure it spends properly.

When it comes to choosing a strategy determine what you want to optimize for. Remember, conversions are more costly than other types like engagement or clicks. The further down the sales funnel the event is the more it will cost to bid on. There are several things that can go wrong when you’re picking all of this.

You can learn more about the various optimizations for this here including:

  • Lowest Cost Vs Target Cost
  • Bid Caps
  • Delivery
  • Optimization

Solution: If your campaign is under or over-spending, take a look at your budget options and review possible optimizations. Remember:

  • For limited time campaigns that focus on conversions, target cost bidding can be an effective strategy.
  • Bid caps are going to reduce your campaign performance if you're under-bidding.
  • Delivery also has an influence on ad performance.

Potential Issue #5: A Blatant Scheduling Error

Ad scheduling is easy to overlook but can cause major problems if you’re not careful. When your audience is online makes a huge difference to your ad performance and spend.

Finding the best time to run your ads might seem like, ironically, a waste of time but it can really help with performance especially if you have a smaller budget. With large budgets, this is still important. It can make for a more efficient spend.

time dance

When you should run your ads depends entirely on your business but if you're making most sales during the week rather than weekends, you could start by only running ads on weekdays to make the most of your budget. This might coincide with when your sales team are online anyway, avoiding your ads pushing people to your site when there's nobody around to answer any questions. You can find a lot of information about times and days your website is busy by looking in your HubSpot and Google Analytics dashboards for information.

Solution: Combine your knowledge of users on your website with an understanding of when your business is online and available to offer the best ad scheduling to suit your goals.

Some advertisers on Facebook can also make use of sequential ads for reach and frequency objectives. These ads are displayed to users in a sequence

Issue #6 Not Enough Conversions

Look your Campaigns and Ad Sets sometimes can’t optimize if there aren’t enough results to optimize against. This is especially true for conversion campaigns where the event Facebook is optimizing for is a direct conversion or product purchase. You need around 50 conversions a week for Facebook to be able to optimized correctly, so if your ad campaign isn’t converting 50 users a week the campaign will struggle to settle when it comes to performance and spend.


Solution: You have a few choices here because it really depends on your projected conversion rates or predicted event rates, but if your conversions are never going to exceed 50 per week a good option can be to set a target cost (rather than lowest cost) bidding strategy. This can help limit the fluctuations in spend from Facebook and settle the Campaign into a better rhythm.

Issue #7 Your Targeting is Too Wide

If you shoot a wide net, your spend is going to be eaten up by people who might turn into leads but definitely won’t all be qualified leads. There’s an important distinction between these two types of people. If you're looking for brand awareness a wide reach is fine, but for people further down the sales funnel you're going to want to be more specific. It’s easy to cast too wide of a net with Facebook Ads but the solution is pretty easy. Refine those audiences!

Solution: Use your Buyer Personas to create social buyer personas of ideal customers you are targeting through Facebook and target this audience specifically. Think about behaviours specifically, and consider which life events or interests you might be able tap into given their persona. Use the Facebook Audience Insights tool to get a better understanding of your audiences and adjust your targeting to suit. 

Audience Insight Tool Facebook

Issue #8 People are Seeing Your Ads Too Often

There’s such a thing as ad fatigue, and if your audience are suffering from this it's going to drive up the costs and drive down the relevancy score of your ads (because people won’t click on the ads and they might even hide or report them). So how can you stop people being bored of your ads?


Solution: You can set a frequency cap for reach and frequency buying or set up alerts in any Campaign so you know when the frequency is too high. You can also view ad frequency when you look at your Ad Set performance charts.

Setting up a rule-based alert is super easy (see below), and you can automate turning on and off the ads based on rules you create, but remember this can be Ad Set based so if you have 3 ads in an Ad Set the frequency needs to be a minimum of 3 and not just 1.

Frequency Cap Facebook Ads Alert

Issue #9 Your Placement is Sucking Up Budget

Automatic Placement of ads can be super easy and speed up the creation of ads but you should spend more than moment thinking about these. Where you choose to place your ad directly influences cost and performance. For example, the Audience Network is always cheaper than other placements and can be great for reach, but it can also eat into your budget. Because it's cheaper, and will easily garner reach, Facebook will push more budget into it and so eat up your spend. Similarly, Instagram can often cost a little more but can be valuable if that's where your audience is.

Automatic placements can easily be causing overspend when it comes to your budgets, so what can you do to make sure the right money is going to the right places?

Solution: Change your placements to suit your goals and audiences. If you know your product or service only works on certain devices make sure you target those devices, as well, rather than wasting budget on a device that can't convert.

Pay special attention to the placement section when setting up ads as this is also where you can add block lists and exclude certain categories.

Placements Facebook Ads

Bonus Issue (#10) You Need Some Expert Paid Social Media Advice

Look, if you aren't living and breathing Facebook Ads it can be hard to see the forest for the trees when it comes to correctly optimizing your Campaigns for better performance. That's okay! That's why digital marketers like us exist to consult on paid social advertising and offer our strategic advice (as well as quick fixes and bonus tips).

If you're struggling to tell why your Facebook Ads are under-performing or want to launch a stellar Campaign that's going to attract the right kind of business, contact us today for a free consultation. Our team of digital marketers, social media specialists, and web developers have over 100 years combined experience in the industry.

Ian Cameron

Ian Cameron

Ian Cameron assumed the pivotal role of Chief Marketing Expert at Meticulosity, leading our strategic marketing initiatives with unwavering expertise and vision.

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