Facebook Audience Size NOT AVAILABLE (-1)

UPDATE (April 27, 2019): It looks like Facebook found a solution for the problem and audience estimates are available once again. 

UPDATE 2: This Marketing Land article has interesting details about the cause of the problem. A research team from Northeastern University found an exploit in which it could infer attributes of an individual included in an uploaded Custom Audience list of emails, addresses or other personally identifiable information (PII) using the estimated reach reporting available in the advertising interface:

“It turns out there is a rounding threshold in those estimates. Once that’s identified, an advertiser could potentially upload a list of emails right on the rounding threshold, for example, and then add one email (or “victim”) to the list. If the reach estimates change when a targeting attribute is selected, the advertiser can infer that person has that attribute. And vice versa, if it doesn’t change, then it can be inferred the person does not have that attribute.”

The research team alerted Facebook about the issue and was rewarded through the bug bounty program.

If you used your Facebook Ads account recently, you might have noticed some very strange things. Don’t worry, there is nothing wrong with your ads, or with your pixel, it’s just a technical problem that Facebook is having.

Apparently, it started on December 22, and Facebook is still looking for a proper fix when this article has been published.

We’ve been in contact with Facebook Support, and that’s what we know so far.

Estimate for your audiences are unavailable

When you create an ad targeting your existing Custom Audiences, you might see a message saying that estimates are not available.

Custom Audiences Size Not Available or -1

It possible that you won’t see the size of the audience anymore, regardless the fact that they are ready.

When this happens

This can affect several types of audiences:

  • Website and mobile app Custom Audiences if using advanced matching 
  • Custom Audiences from a customer file
  • Offline conversions Custom Audiences

Website or mobile app Custom Audiences that do not include customer data and engagement Custom Audiences are unaffected by this update.

What happens with your ads?

Everything will work fine, and ads delivery and reporting will remain unaffected by this change.

You will still be able to create Custom Audiences, as well as ads using any type of Custom Audiences on Facebook. It’s only the reach estimate that’s missing.

What if you’re a PixelYourSite user?

If you use PixelYourSite Pro, chances are that you’ll be affected by this bug. We do send Advanced Matching data everytime we can (for logged in users, or for the Purchase event, after a transaction), so it’s possible that your Custom Audiences will display size “Not available” for now.

Nothing to worry though, since everything else works fine.

When will be fixed?

According to Facebook, they are currently investigating solutions to restore these reach estimates in their interfaces.

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49 Responses

  1. Hey Christian is there any update from Facebook regarding this error? I’ve spoken to 3 different support agents, and each one has blown me off saying they have ‘escalated my enquiry to the appropriate team’.

    I don’t really trust launching any new campaigns until its fixed so if you hear anything please let us know 🙂

    1. All I can say is that new and old campaigns are working fine, I can’t see any errors whatsoever. As for when they’ll fix it, we just have to wait and see.

  2. Hi Christian, thank you for this. I am new to PixelYourSite, I installed on Dec 23rd or 24th. At that time, inside my Business Manager, I created new pixels to use with PYS, removing the main pixel I had. Suddenly I noticed my audience counts as “Unavailable.”

    Until this article, I thought the “unavailable” was a result of incorrect setup in PYS…but now it seem like bad timing.

    However, I have noticed one strange thing. These “unavailable” audience counts also show a value of “-1” in some places. And when trying to use them with Adespresso tonight after reading your article, I got this error:
    (“Reach estimate for your targeting configuration is not available due to Facebook policies based on Advertising Principles”)
    A link directed me to https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2017/11/our-advertising-principles/

    So it seems like the issue is related to the removal of certain types of targeting from their API etc.

    Has any of what I just mentioned also happened to you?
    Either the “-1” audience count or the “Advertising Principles” warning?
    My targeting was simply pixeled website traffic, no special configurations other than that – so the message was strange.
    I pushed the ads through anyway, will know soon if they are showing to my segments.

    1. It’s still there, probably a more serious issue than expected. I wonder if is not related to the new EU GDPR due to take effect starting from May 25, 2018.

  3. This issue has been going on for over a month now. It is pretty amazing that a multibillion dollar company like FB can’t figure out how to fix it’s own product. I refuse to advertise when I have no idea of the audience that I am marketing to.

  4. Thanks for sharing this informative article it carry many relevant points to resolve the given issues which i was facing, do keep up the good work mate .

  5. Thank you for writing about this issue. I meticulously gleaned my customer database and re-formatted everything to a T-to Facebook’s rules. Seeing a -1 audience size over and over created an avalanche of work for me troubleshooting the problem. I guess it did not help that this was my very first attempt at creating a Facebook custom audience. Bad timing I guess. Thanks for literally saving me hours more research time ‘solving’ my own work. I agree with another writer that this is a crippling problem for advertisers to deal with. Every day Facebook cannot solve this issue is another day of driving new ad revenue over to their chief competitor Google I guess. Many thanks again.

  6. I have been facing the same issue. I tried changing the targeting audience age and the estimated audience size appeared. I don’t know what made the difference but it works for me. I only change the age in some small numbers. You guys should try it.

  7. Bro…I thought i was loosing my mind. Thank god this video was the first couple hits on youtube lol
    I hope this get’s fixed soon!!!! wtff FACBEOOOKKKK

  8. I’m adding custom audiences from a customer file. Are there some fields that are preventing this from giving an audience size? Like age, DOB, etc?

  9. I’ve got the same issue but it’s even more worse because I wanted to build a lookalike audience based on this custom audience. Now trying to create the lookalike audience, I get the error message: “(#2654) Source Audience too small: Please choose a target group with minimum 100 people in the same country.” (This is my translation from german into english). I really need to create this lookalike audience but it’s not possible. Does anybody have an idea, what I could do?

    1. I think that in reality, your Custom Audience is still too small. In my experience, Lookalikes are not affected by the problem.

  10. I want to use the custom audience function of the merchant management platform as a crowd for golf equipment. Why can’t I use the audience analysis function of the platform to crawl? Websites with a lot of traffic like magazines show too few audiences

  11. Im getting the #2654 error also when creating a look a like from my pixel of everyone that has visited all 3 of my sites. The three sites have had about 8k views since the pixel has been installed. I find it hard to believe that I dont have enough of an audience to create a look a like…..uggghhhhhh!

  12. I’m receiving horribly inaccurate audience estimates i know are wrong. They all say <20 people available as of the 9th of April in New Zealand. Anyone know if this original problem was ever fixed?

  13. Hello, I’m not able to create a look alike audience when the size is not available, do you have any idea of why it’s happening? Thanks

  14. I really hope that once this problem is solved the problem is retroactively fixed. The worst that could happen is if all of the data collected by the pixel during this time period is unusable and we’re forced to collect data all over again..

  15. Hi, This Alfonso.. Do you think we can still use the custom audience even though it still says audience size not available.. Have you tried it..? It is still performing accurately..?

  16. I just experienced this problem for the first time, (June 26th) even though I have seen comments indicating people have experiencing issues since January, which I never did until today.

    After searching FB’s support page with no real answer, I found this site online and look through all the comments.

    Someone suggested playing around with the targeting and I changed my target age to start from 25 to 24 and the audience size suddenly displayed for the first time since I have been trying to resolve this for an hour…even when I changed to age back to 25, it worked!

    Hope that helps someone reading this but I get the impression that you have to keep playing round with the targeting settings in order to fix the problem:)

    1. It’s strange to hear that and I wonder if you didn’t see some sort of old cache, or something similar. As far as I know, Facebook has no intention to bring back CA sizes in this instance.

  17. Hi I am having this problem too on almost all of my account. Do you guys think there’s something we could do to get facebook to fix this? The customer service is awful. If I had not found this chat I will never find out what happened. FB support was useless and said I 100% do not have a BUG and refuse to send my problem to tech support.

  18. Hey Christian, I noticed inside PixelYourSite plugin settings, there is still a notice that custom audience sizes will be unavailable IF you select to use Advanced Matching. This might imply that they will be available without Advanced Matching.

    However, it was my understanding that regardless of Advanced Matching, Facebook will no longer show audience sizes for website visitors… e.g. We might as well turn on Advanced Matching, because regardless if we use it or not, the audience size estimate will no longer be data that Facebook shares with advertisers.

    Have I understood this correctly, or have I perhaps misunderstood?

    Thanks for the insight, like always! Huge fans of your products 🙂

    1. As far as I know, our notice is still correct. You can see estimates for audiences that don’t use personal data. They plan to change it, but I don’t know when.

  19. I uploaded multiple list of about 100k contacts, it shows not available and ready. We are however getting reach on some of them, not all, of about 40-50k is our average match rate.

    Whats everyone match rate been?

  20. Having a similar issue with FB lookalike audiences lately. About 90% of my lookalikes are getting the error :

    Audience not created – We couldn’t create your lookalike audience. Please delete this audience and try creating it again.

    These are for existing lookalikes which I’ve been using for the last 6 months. Reach within the adset dramatically declined as well.

    Anyone have this issue lately?

  21. I tried to create a lookalike audience using pixel buy I’m getting error – Source is Too Small: Please choose a combination of source and event that includes at least 100 people in the same country. (#2654).

  22. Tried uploading a list of 50k emails, first names and phones, all opt in. Yet I’m getting the Estimated Audience Size as Not Available. How do I know if ads are served to my entire list?

    1. I don’t think Facebook any longer gives estimates for this type of audience, something to do with privacy.

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