We’ve all had it happen at least once — the dreaded ding of a new notification that declares your Facebook ad was denied. It usually comes with a vague comment about following Facebook’s ad rules. Sometimes (if you’re lucky), you’ll get an equally confusing comment about what part of the guidelines you may or may not have violated.
Facebook can be a little obtuse and confusing about what they accept and deny, but there are ways to increase the likelihood of approval. Here’s what you need to know.
Facebook has specific guidelines for how you can use or mention the word “Facebook” in your ads. This would apply, for example, if you were advertising a new Facebook page you wanted people to “like.” It’s also a must if you need to show where the ad click-through will take your audience, should they hopefully click it.
Facebook’s advertising rules regarding Facebook-branded assets state that you can only use their assets at certain times. Here’s the basics:
- You may never imply that your ad is in partnership with Facebook or Instagram, or that it is endorsed by either party. This is an instant decline.
- You may not highlight or enhance brand terminology in a way that makes it stand out in the ad. For example, the font you use when mentioning Facebook or Instagram must be the same as the font (in both style and size) used throughout the rest of the ad.
- You must write the words “Facebook” and “Instagram” with proper capitalization. You may not use the abbreviation of “FB” in any ad copy, nor can you use either word as a verb.
- You may never use the corporate logo for any reason. Full-stop. Even if you’re advertising a page on Facebook.
- You cannot use any screenshots of Facebook or Instagram that represent old functionalities. You may only use photos of features that are current and work properly.
Average advertisers don’t have a lot of reasons to incorporate Facebook or Instagram logos into their advertising campaigns. Rarely, people working in the internet marketing or social spheres may find it necessary to promote services or consultations, but the instances in which this is valid are extremely niche. Facebook and Instagram both offer brand resource centers with complete information on how the logos can be used; you should review and follow them closely.
Prohibited Ad Content
While all of this may seem cut and dry, Facebook does offer a list of content that is completely prohibited. Ads that mention topics that are illegal or discriminatory in nature can’t be promoted at all through the advertising system. In fact, you can’t even post this kind of content on Facebook without risking a ban.
Here are some other surprising blacklisted topics:
- Tobacco products and paraphernalia (including vaping products).
- Unsafe supplements (as per Facebook’s discretion).
- Legal drugs, including over-the-counter or prescription products. This includes substances like CBD oil or marijuana, even where it is legal.
- Anything related to weapons, guns, and even some tactical gear.
- Adult products, services, or content (sexually suggestive or not).
- Ads that depict or promote violence, as well as “shock value” content.
- Items that talk about personal attributes. This can get complicated, but essentially, it means you can’t assume the personal attributes of your audience, including race, religion, or age.
While violence is a given, content with shock value sometimes trips people up. For example, Facebook may find a photo of a cancer patient or accident victim in a hospital bed “shocking,” whether there is graphic or gory content in the image or not.
Facebook also prohibits content that includes links to broken landing pages, the promotion of spy equipment, payday loans, actual multi-level marketing or pyramid schemes (not to be confused with network marketing), and other illegal services or activities.
Your ad will also be denied if it is poorly written with bad grammar or spelling mistakes. Do yourself a favor; take a few seconds to have it proofread or at least run it through Microsoft Word’s review tools. A well-written ad is always more impactful!
Certain other categories are listed as “restricted” in nature. For example, you may promote alcohol if you are complying with local laws, but you must also be compliant when it comes to your targeting methods. State-run lotteries may advertise via their respective government entities, but all other lotteries are prohibited. You can read Facebook’s full list of prohibited and restricted content here.
A Closer Look at Personal Attributes and Health
We’ve already mentioned that you can’t create an image or write ad copy that points out a personal identifying attribute. This includes asking questions about gender identity, criminal records, financial health, medical conditions, or disabilities.
This is one of the biggest reasons for declines, but advertisers often struggle with figuring out exactly when they cross the (very gray) line). If you’re in the wellness, weight loss, or beauty spheres, the risk is often much higher because the very nature of these products is that they exist to be targeted to specific attributes.
Does that mean you can’t advertise a service to someone with, say, a criminal record? No, not at all. It does mean you have to write the ad copy in an objective manner with more of a third-person voice that doesn’t speak directly to your potential consumer.
In terms of health and beauty, you can’t point out flaws. Ads for acne treatments need to talk about the physical attributes of acne and how the condition can sometimes make sufferers feel, but you still can’t necessarily write them in a way that suggests the reader of the ad has acne.
Here’s something else that may surprise you: you aren’t prohibited from posting before and after photos on your page. Yet, you are prohibited from using them in your ad creatives.
Need a few examples?
Lawyers can create ads that say, “Legal services for convicted felons.” They cannot write an ad that asks, “Are you a convicted felon?”
You can write an ad that talks about “Reversing acne scarring.” You cannot write an ad that asks, “Are you tired of your acne scars?”
Image and Text Guidelines
Facebook used to have a hard rule stating that an ad image can have no more than 20 percent text. They’ve since relaxed the rules a bit, but ads that are 20 percent text-heavy or less still do better than those with a higher ration.
This determination is based on a grid system. The grid is split into sections and no more than 20 percent of the grid can have even a portion of text within it.
Sweating? Confused? Don’t worry, help is available. Facebook has an Image Text Check tool you can use to review your image before creating your ad. Images that are “OK” will run normally. Low and medium text blocks may be restricted, while images with a high text ratio may still be blocked.
At the end of the day, it’s important to have an in-house or partnered ad writer and designer who is familiar with Facebook’s community and ad guidelines. The more creative you can be about presenting your product or service, the more successful your ads will be. You’ll spend less time trying to correct rejected ads and can focus on creating new objectives instead!
If you do run into problems, I encourage you to get in touch with me or book a consultation. Some situations are a little bit more complex and need a bit of a deeper dig to identify the problem. I believe there is always a fix.