Sudden Drop in Impressions? 16 Checks to Save Your Campaigns

Sudden drop in impressions

Sudden drop in impressions is a nightmare for any Google ads advertiser. There can be multiple reasons behind massive impression drop in campaigns. In this post, we will review these issues and learn how to troubleshoot and restore your campaign performance back to normal.

We will discuss about 16 checks that will help you to find the reasons behind impression drop and solutions to solve these issues.

Check these;

  1. Account balance
  2. Contact Google Ads support
  3. Campaign types, specific campaigns and ad groups
  4. Impression share metrics
  5. Check ad status and policy issues
  6. Change history
  7. Quality score
  8. Bids
  9. Search partner performance
  10. Auction insight report
  11. Website technical issues
  12. Device performance
  13. Location performance
  14. Seasonality and trends
  15. Channel performance in Google Analytics
  16. Display network campaigns

Check Your Account Balance

This is a very basic check, but it is a critical one. One of the major reasons behind the steep drop in impressions is low budget. This can happen if the budget is very low in your account and the system fails to warn you or you failed to notice the warning. The Google ads budget warning system is much better these days, but this is an area where periodic manual check is best.

If your account budget is very low, then the system will try to give you impressions within that budget, and it will fail. This will result in sudden drop in impressions without any warnings. Any changes your try to make in the campaigns will not give any result, until you add sufficient budget.

So before making any unnecessary change to your well-settled, successful campaigns, check your budget first.

Contact Google Ads Support Team

Someone who tried to contact Google ads support will know how difficult it is. I had my share of troubles in the past. But still I am listing it here in the beginning, because of a very important reason.

Sometimes a Google ads account can go into ‘review’ or ‘hold’. There are many reasons for this. It can be because a bot flagged your account (sensitive words within the website content can trigger the bots, which periodically scans all websites).

Account holds can also be triggered by a recent change in law in your target location (compliance issues), a Google ad policy change or an on-going scam in a specific industry or country that your account is associated with (suspicious activities).

In any of these cases, your account will be ‘on hold’ till a review takes place, without any warning or notice to you. Till the review is complete in most cases your ads will not run. Your campaign will not get any impressions.

This is a very difficult situation. You will not get any warning that your account is under review. You will be troubled with the massive drop in impressions. And this can result in the account manager making drastic, unnecessary changes in stable campaigns, destroying them.

There is only one way to escape this disaster. When you see sudden drop in impressions in your campaigns, do the basic checks like budget and ad status (approved or disapproved) first. If you find no issues, then contact Google support and ask them to investigate the problem. Only internal support teams can confirm that your account is on hold or not. Do not make any changes in your account before this confirmation, because your changes will not improve the impressions till the review is over.Contact support when there is a sudden drop in impressions

Campaign Types, Specific Campaigns and Ad Groups

If none of the two checks discussed above is your problem, then check which campaign type (search, display, video..) specific campaigns, or ad group is responsible for impression drop.

Sometimes a problem can affect an entire account and the affect will be uniform across all campaigns. But impression drop can happen because of problems affecting only a specific campaign or ad group.

Identifying this is important in troubleshooting the issue.

Impression Share Metrics

Once you identify the specific campaign, check the impression share report.

Follow the instructions here to get impression share data with your campaign data.

Compare lost impression share (budget) and lost impression share (rank) over previous month’s data. If the impression share loss is because of budget, you will have to increase your budget to improve your impression share.

Impression share drop can also happen because of ‘rank’. Impression share loss due to ‘rank’ in an indication of wider issues in your account (quality score – CTR, ad relevance and landing page quality).

The short term solution to this problem is increasing your bids.

You can find tips to improve your impression share here.

Ad Status and Policy Issues

One of the primary checks to do when you see a dip in impressions. If a lot of your ads suddenly get disapproved, that will negatively impact your impression share.

Usually when an ad is disapproved, you will get a notification in your Google ads account interface. You will also get an email alert about the disapproval. Check your ads and confirm their current status.

Ad disapproval is based on Google Ads policy violations. So if your ads are disapproved, you have to make changes to your website or ads to make them compliant.

Make the required changes and re-submit your ads for approval.

Sudden Drop in Impressions Check Ad Status

Change History

Changes that you make in your account at times can produce unintended results. One of those results is impression loss. When you are experiencing a severe impression drop, one of the first things to check is your change history.

From your accounts left side navigation bar, select change history. Analyse the changes you made in the account in and around the date when the problem started.

Check if any of those changes resulted in impression drop.

Quality Score –A Major Factor in Sudden Drop in Impressions

Quality score drop is a major reason behind sudden drop in impressions in a campaign.

A low quality score can reduce your chances of entering in an ad auction, which results in massive drops in impressions.

Check your quality score and see if there is any significant drop. Add the necessary columns in the interface and compare historical Quality Score data.

Quality score has three major components – Landing page experience, expected CTR and ad relevance. Check these components and make relevant changes to improve your quality score


Your ability to enter in to a Google Ads auction (which results in your ad getting impressions) is mainly affected by two factors.

Your quality score and bids.

Your bids must be competitive enough to win an auction and get an impression for your ad.

So periodically check and optimize your bids to remain competitive. Increasing bids is one of the easiest and fastest ways to improve your impression share.

Search Partner Performance

Changes in the search partner network can reduce your impressions to a big extend.  Segment your campaign data by ‘Network’ and compare it with previous month’s data. This will give you an idea, where you are losing impressions.

There is no option to separately optimize search network traffic. But at least you will know where your impression share is dropping.

Auction Insight Report

Another reason for sudden drop in impressions is increased competition. Increased competition can easily push you out of the first page search results and this can have a huge impact on the number of impressions your ad gets.

There is no place better to find details of new competitors than auction insight reports. Select the date range when you started experiencing impression drop and compare it with previous data.

If you find increased competition is the reason behind impression drop, then you need to work on you bids and budget strategy. Check your ad position using Ad preview tool. Check your competition too.

Then make necessary adjustments in bids.

Auction insight report

Website Technical Issues

Technical issues of your website can have big impact on your quality score. Page speed a major factor in landing page quality. If a recent technical glitch affected your page speed, it can easily reflect negatively in your quality score. This can result in big impression loss. So check your site and make sure everything is working well.

Device Performance

In some cases the impression drop is attributed to a specific device segment (computers, mobiles, tablets). So when you experience massive impression drop, segmented your campaign data by device and see if the problem is only on a specific device category.

If the reason is a specific device type then check your website performance and ad position on that specific device. Make adjustments as needed.

Location Performance

This is similar to device category check. If a specific target location is responsible for impression drop, then check if you have increased competition in that area.

Check you ad positions and adjust bids if needed.

Seasonality and Trends

There are times when the massive drop in impression has nothing to do with the components of your campaigns. There are factors that is completely out of your control that drive impressions down

And those factors are seasonality and trends.

In many businesses there will be off seasons. Times when the demand for your product or service completely evaporates or shrinks to minimum levels. It will be easy for a seasonal marketer or business man to understand this. If you are new to your business or campaign, check this possibility.

In your campaign and in Google Analytics, check if there was a similar trend last year. Check last year’s data and compare the trends.

The next factor is downward trends that grip your target audience very fast. These are very difficult to predict. Natural disasters, industry specific downward trends or other calamities, anything can destabilize your target audience.  When people have other immediate priorities in life, search for products and services will dry up.

One amazing free tool to investigate this factor is Google Trends. You can access Google Trends here. You can select a very specific geographic location and see the current and historic trends for your major keywords. When you experience a sharp drop in impressions, check Google Trends to understand the market trends.

Sudden Drop in Impressions Due to Market Trends

Check Channel Performance in Google Analytics

If you have a Google Analytics account, comparing channel performance will help you to identify the exact reason for the drop in impressions.

If the impression drop is across all channels, that is an indication that either you have site wide issues that needs fixing or there is a negative trend that is affecting your target market.

If the drop is only affecting your Google Ads campaigns then you need to find where the problem is, and fix it.

Display Network Campaigns

If impression drop is in your display network campaigns, first check performance on specific placements (websites) where you historically got good impressions.

Changes on your best placements can result in big fluctuations in impressions. Sometimes a page design change on your host website can eliminate the place of your most important ad size. And your impressions on that specific site will take a hit.

You will be more vulnerable to these fluctuations, if you are using only custom built image ads. That too only in the most popular dimensions (sizes).

Competition for popular ad dimensions across the web is high. So your bids must be high, compared to your competition to maintain a steady impression share. When other advertisers increase bids your ads will stop getting impressions.

When you face this problem try increasing your bids to improve your chances of getting more impressions.

Also use responsive display ads. When you are using responsive display ads, Google uses the uploaded assets and creates ads that will fit in to any available ad slot. This will help you to maintain a steady impression share.

Restarting Campaigns after a Long Time

Impression drops can be an issue when you restart you campaigns after a long time too. Check this blog post if you are interested to know more about restarting a Google ads campaign efficiently after a long time.


Sudden drop in impressions can drive any account manager in to panic state. Making drastic changes without knowing the exact reason behind the drop will throw your campaigns out of its steady state and affect performance.

So don’t do it.

Maintaining calm is the big first step in rectifying this problem. We need to understand the reason behind it first. Where it is happening and why it is happening.

Once you find the specific reason behind the issue, it is much easier to solve it.

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