The nimiety of ads on Facebook may have lead you to believe that any old thing can get uploaded and served up to our eyeballs, but alas, there are actually quite a lot of rules! Most of the rules are relatively straightforward, although strict guidelines on the amount of copy in images can often throw people off.
Here are the most common reasons Facebook ads get disapproved and what you can do with your future ads to ensure this never happens.
1. The Ad Has Something That Isn’t Allowed
The full list of industries that are prohibited by Facebook are as follows:
- Adult Products
- Forged Documents
- Illegal Drugs
- Malware and Spyware
- Multilevel Marketing Schemes (e.g. Pyramid scheme)
- Payday Loans
- Penny Auctions
- Supplements (e.g. steroids)
- Surveillance Equipment
Most of the time, this is a fairly easy one to judge with a dash of good old common sense, as anything you think might be banned probably is. The typical prohibited industries such as tobacco, weapons and pharmaceuticals are all included on this list, but this should come as no surprise given that restricted industries such as these tend to have particularly heavy-handed regulations when it comes to sales and marketing. It’s also worth noting that this restriction applies to images and copy in any form, so even an ad for a different product featuring a gun in the background would be banned automatically.
2. The Ad Promotes A Restricted Product
While the products and services listed above are flat-out banned by Facebook, there are plenty of others that can still get you in hot water and see your ad disapproved. Many of these industries find themselves having to tow a strict line with their ads, and usually, this will relate to advertising laws in the region. The main ones that need to comply are:
- Dating Sites
- Financial Services
- Influencer Marketing
- Political Advertising
- Subscription-based Services
Most of these industries are allowed, but they will either need verification from Facebook before the ads can go live (e.g. pharmacies and political ads), and others must follow strict rules (e.g. influencer posts must be tagged to show that the posts were paid for). The best way to ensure that ads for products in these industries get approved is to understand the regulations in place. For example, while working with our e-cigarette client blu, we came to understand what can and can’t be said in marketing communications concerning e-cigarettes and vaping. In this instance, while e-cigarette ads in the UK can mention someone using them in place of smoking, they can’t make claims about how healthy they are by comparison. As such, an ad saying:
should be fine, but one saying:
would be disapproved. With this in mind, the ASA offers a lot of advice on its site, and these guidelines on your industry can be adapted into a “Do’s and Don’ts” document which will help inform your creative department’s work. For advertising abroad, you should invest some time getting to know the laws in your target region.
3. The Copy And Creative Isn’t Right
The golden rule for Facebook ads is that no more than 20% of the ad should be taken up by copy. While ads used to get disapproved automatically for flouting this rule, Facebook will now scale back the potential reach of your ad depending on how much copy it has. Depending on how much of the ad is taken up by copy, your ad will perform as follows:
- Image text below 20% - Ad runs normally
- Image text slightly above 20% - Ad’s reach is marginally lower
- Image text above 20% - Ad’s reach is much lower
- Image text well above 20% - Ad may be disapproved
Facebook hasn’t released the exact margins at which your ad will get disapproved completely, so your best bet is to keep it below 20%. To check if an ad will likely be approved by Facebook, try using this tool from Social Contests.
The quality of the copy can also affect whether your ad gets approved or not, although generally this will only extend to grammar and standardised writing formats (e.g. using capital letters). Any ads using stuff deemed “spammy” in the copy, such as multiple exclamation points or emojis, also runs the risk of getting disapproved.
Lastly, ads that are deemed to be disruptive (e.g. video with multiple flashing lights) are up for the chopping block, as they’d most likely have people leaving Facebook, and we can’t be having that now, can we!
4. The Copy Mentions Personal Attributes
If the copy in your ad specifically hits upon some of the personal attributes that Facebook has been able to glean from your targets, the ad will get disapproved. There is often a thin line to tread, but in general, you can refer to the group but not the reason they’re being targeted.
So, for example, an ad with the copy:
would be fine, but one with the copy:
would not be fine.
Part of the reason for this is to avoid predatory exploitation where a person’s financial, medical or family situation may be used against them to sell something. This doesn’t merely have to impinge upon private information, as even implications towards the consumer can get your ad banned. For example, ads that make reference to losing weight are likely to get disapproved if they are implying that there is something wrong with the target consumer.
Importantly, while Facebook don’t want you mentioning demographics, if you happen to use copy that makes the ad seem irrelevant to your demographic, it also runs the risk of getting canned. Further to this, ads which misuse Facebook’s brand are also out, so if you’re planning on using them, check their brand guidelines before submitting.
5. Landing Page Issues
A crappy landing page, while not on the Facebook platform, can also mean an ad gets disapproved. In general, you should be following proper UX principles if you want your users to convert in any case, but Facebook will pull any ads that mislead people into heading for a landing page that doesn’t marry with the ad.
The reason for the ad getting pulled in this regard can be as simple as design and creative not matching up, but, in the instance of more nefarious advertisers, it can be because the ad has pushed people towards a product or scheme that wasn’t mentioned on Facebook.