Common question. I hate to start with the usual; there are many factors that determine when your ads run, but in this case it is unavoidable. So lets go over them:
Since we cannot game-out every type of campaign you may use. Its best to start with the disqualifiers – how much your chosen campaign type defers control to Google. Google encourages you to use Enhanced Bidding techniques. (I do not recommend these) That means Google uses it’s Machine Learning or simply, AI to run your ad campaign. In the case your ad campaigns use such “automation”, you are out of luck. There is no way to debug why your ads are not displaying so you can see them. Google’s programs are black boxes that only the programmers at Google know why they do what they do.
There is one Maximum Conversions campaign type which will give you the greatest exposure, but you will pay for that in order to have 100% coverage. If you set a budget that is too little, this campaign type will meter-out your ads so that your budget fits into the days expected search volume. Again, you can only debug why your ad is not seen every time you perform a search by increasing your budget. If you have unlimited $, good for you. Having said all that, the following are still applicable to debugging your ads.
There is only one campaign type which allows you to debug why your ads are not seen: Manual PPC. (which I do recommend) With Manual PPC you have control of the bid, and that means you can predict when your ad should run. You will need to temporarily increase the bid to an amount that seems rediculous, but on 1 or 2 keywords, this test won’t break the bank.
Now we have to consider the most important variables that affect when your ad is displayed to you; your location and your online activity (more precisely, your personality). Google knows more about you than your mother does
Are you sitting in your target market area? If not, you wont see your ads.
Time of day and budget. Your budget is likely limited and may run out by end of day. And you may limit the price you are willing to bid for a click so that you get an even distribution of clicks throughout the day. You will need to increase these to assume your ads can run. But since we are talking about 1 or 2 keywords, this test won’t break the bank.
Next; find your “Search Lost IS” per keyword (lost impression share). That indicates how often your ads DID NOT run. Others are likely willing to outbid you in a place & time. Each entity running ads in your market can change their bids at any time. Which simply means you cannot (even mathematically) predict when your ad will run. However, we can still do some debugging by finding the keyword(s) with the lowest “Search Lost IS”. If your ads run 80% of the time, that means your ad is running almost at maximum. A “Search Lost IS” of less than 20% is very good and that is your best keyword(s) for this test. Increase the Max CPC (bid) on your best keyword to $20.00. (yes that seems crazy, but you won’t pay $20 per click) If you want to know why, read more here about how the Google Ad Network really works.
Now that you have read thus far, I have a spoiler: you cannot debug your own ads – have no fear, there is a solution. But first we have to explain that its your online activity (personality) that prevents you from debugging you own ads.
If you never click on one of your ads (which you should not) even though you searched using one of your best keywords, Google will stop showing you ads that are “ineffective” on you regardless what you are bidding on that keyword. Google may have determined you are not a serious shopper of your own product. Google may even know your annual salary and age (if you are logged into Google). Which means, depending on your audience targets, you may not be bidding high enough on your own demographic. And finally, since you do click on ads for other products, means Google will show you more ads for similar products. Bottom line; you cannot debug your own ads.
>> Here is the one and only way to determine if your ads are running: call a friend (1) who is not in your business, (2) who is located in your target area, (3) at around 9am, and (4) who fits the demographics you target.
Ask them to search on Google using one of your low lost impression share keywords from the prior steps. If your friend cannot confirm that your ads are running, you have something mis-configured in your Google Ads.
(5) remember to revert your bid on the keyword(s) when your test is over.