Facebook Advertising Policy, Simplified

By 4 min read June 3, 2017Facebook Advertising, Marketing
4 min read

Have you ever tried to run an ad, only to have it rejected by Facebook? You can blame the Facebook advertising policy. The ability to advertise on the Facebook advertising platform comes with rules and, although I hate to say it, rules aren’t necessarily a bad thing. From a consumer standpoint, seeing offensive ads, a block of condensed text in an image, or a misleading image that looks like a video with a play button, will most likely leave a bad taste in just about anybody’s mouth.

Recently, Facebook increased its efforts to limiting links to low-quality web pages. What does this mean? Basically, any ad (or organic Facebook post) leading to a webpage with a never-ending stream of pop-ups and ads for x-rated and malicious content will see a substantial decrease in reach and, in turn, a nosedive in CTR. This is similar to another recent update from Facebook to reduce clickbait headlines. Just like their efforts to limit links to low-quality webpages, Facebook will limit distribution of posts with “clickbaity” or spammy headlines. In short: say goodbye to those catchy and shocking headlines (and you won’t believe why!!!).

Why is this all happening? Simple: People don’t want to be misled.

What is Facebook’s Ad Review Process?

Before your ads even see the laptop gleam in a viewer’s glasses, Facebook need to make sure everything’s gravy. This usually takes about 24 hours, but there are times when it takes a little longer. In this first step, your ads images, text, targeting, positioning and corresponding landing page are looked over with a fine-tooth comb. If there are no red flags, you’re in the clear.

What Are the Red Flags (a.k.a the Facebook Advertising Policy)?

 

Prohibited Content

No exception, these are not allowed.

No-brainers:

  • Illegal products or activities such as drugs or drug related products
  • Tobacco products  – Not including ‘quit-smoking’ products
  • Weapons and/or ammunition and explosives
  • Adult products or services (Sex may sell, but not on Facebook!)
  • Adult content – No nudity, sexual suggestive materials, etc.
  • Unsafe Supplements  – No magical hair regrowth supplements here, folks!
  • Multilevel Marketing (Read: “Get rich quick with little to no investment!”)
  • Weight Loss – Mention of weight loss is prohibited, although fitness and health are acceptable
  • Grammar and Profanity – You wouldn’t speak like that to your grandmother, would you?
  • Third-Party Infringement – If you don’t have the rights… just, uh… don’t use it
  • Spyware or Malware – Because why would you even want to?
  • Work From Home Opportunities – This is a hot one on Facebook’s radar
  • Accuracy – Ads must clearly represent the product/service/brand that’s being advertised

Ones you maybe wouldn’t have thought of:

  • Misleading Content – No exaggerated claims: “You won’t believe that you can cure diabetes with this one-day program!”
  • Payday Loans or Cash Advances 
  • Surveillance Equipment – Spy Cams? No. Cell phone trackers? No.
  • Controversial Content – Unless you’re advertising your campaign, stay clear of the political and/or social issues
  • Personal Attributes – Absolutely no mention of race, sexual orientation, age, religion, disability etc., or any implication of a person’s attributes
  • Non-Functional Landing Page (No 404 Error codes, and no inescapable websites)
  • Penny Auctions
  • Counterfeit Documents
  • Low Quality or Disruptive content (as mentioned before)
  • Unauthorized Streaming Devices (No torrent sites, etc.)
  • Related Landing Page – What’s being promoted in your ad needs to be the same as on your landing page and, as Facebook says, “the destination site must not offer or link to any prohibited product or service.”

The most common rejections we see:

  • Pain Relief: It’s all in the phrasing! Suggesting that someone might be in pain, have a disability, or is in distress, etc., is a sure-fire way to get your ad rejected
  • Weight Loss: Instead of focusing on the weight loss aspect, think about the health and fitness aspect! Ads with the text, “Lose Your Unwanted Belly Fat” or “Lose Weight Today”, are going to be rejected. Ads with the text, “A healthy, happy lifestyle!” or “Balance nutrition and fitness!” are more likely to get approved.
  • Work From Home: Work from home ads are a big no-no on Facebook’s radar.
  • Multi-Level Marketing: Unless you’re a bigwig in the game (ie. Avon, Arbonne, Mary Kay), multilevel marketing, network marketing, and/or affiliate marketing rarely make it past Facebook’s screen.
  • Personal Attributes: Whether you’re offering services to repair bad credit or showcasing your new full-coverage foundation, it’s best not to speak directly to the audience.

Restricted Content

There are specifications ads must meet to be approved when it comes to restricted content.
  • Alcohol – Targeting criteria must meet audience’s local laws, eg. 21 years old and over
  • Dating – No “mail-order brides” or “adult friend finders” and must be a registered dating partner with Facebook
  • Real Money Gambling – Targeting must be set to target’s age of majority
  • State Lotteries – Targeting must be set to target’s age of majority
  • Online Pharmacies – Prior written permission required
  • Supplements  –acceptable supplements must target only 18 years +
  • Subscription Services
  • Financial Services
  • Branded Content
  • Student Loan Services – Targeting must be 18 years +

Video and Image Guidelines

Aside from the policies listed above, videos and images have specific requirements.

Videos

For video ads, aside from the guidelines above, there are some specific policies. For one, there must not be any “disruptive content” (a.k.a – flashing screens to get attention). Just as well, there is a content restriction for entertainment trailers. If you’re advertising a film/video game/show for mature audiences, then you’ll need written permission from Facebook, you’ll have to target an audience of 18 years +, and your video cannot contain the following:

  • No alcohol or drugs
  • No adult content
  • No profanity
  • No violence and gore

On that note, as mentioned before: copyright infringement! If you don’t have the rights to a song, then don’t use it in your video.

Images

The 20% rule still applies… sort of. If you didn’t know already, images for ads on Facebook must not contain more than 20% of text within it. In the past, if the image exceeded that 20% rule, the ad would be rejected. Now, the ad will run, but with little to no delivery.  This great tool is an awesome way to check how much of your image contains text!
Other image requirements include:

  • No before/after images
  • No images of a person in pain and/or distressed
  • No false functionality (eg. a play button on an image so people click the ad thinking it’s a video)

… But, don’t sweat it – you’ll be fine!

The best way to ensure your ad meets Facebook’s guidelines and avoids rejection is simple – would you want to see that ad on your own or your family’s newsfeed? Don’t forget, your ads are seen by people all over the world, and it’s your duty as an advertiser and business owner to make sure that your ad represents your business in the best light to maintain the integrity of your brand.


Jennifer Sintime
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Jennifer Sintime

Jennifer is a digital marketing maven, content writer, and lover of all things tech. When not writing for the needls blog, she can be found researching the latest digital marketing trends, developing killer content strategy, or catching up on her favorite Netflix shows with her two cats.
Jennifer Sintime
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