A cry of frustration rents the air. It could only mean one thing – somewhere, a Facebook ad has been rejected.
There are as many reasons that Facebook might reject an ad as there are stars in the sky, so you’re in good company. Don’t freak out. Don’t panic. Take a deep breath. Then ask yourself these questions.
*This article is NOT a comprehensive review of Facebook’s ad policies. Please please please refer to Facebook’s official policies, including their Advertising Policies, Community Standards, and Terms of Service, for any specific questions.
Are my ads selling a product or service that falls under Facebook’s prohibited or restricted categories?
You can access the complete list here (and you should, since they’re prone to changing this list without warning or announcement), but in general…
Prohibited items are, as you might guess, prohibited completely: weapons, “adult” products and services, payday loans, cryptocurrencies, pharmaceuticals (legal and illegal), multi-level marketing programs, tobacco, and counterfeit documents.
Restricted items may be allowed but may require explicit permission from Facebook: Alcohol, dating services, student loans, political campaigns, online pharmacies, online gambling, state lotteries, supplements, subscription services, financial services.
Note that these are not comprehensive lists – refer to the Advertising Policies for the full list!
Are my ads following Facebook’s Community Standards?
Anyone marketing on Facebook needs to become VERY familiar with their Community Standards, as it can affect everything from ad approvals to your ability to post on your own business page! So you can’t post ads that feature or promote
- Objectionable content (hate speech, nudity, violence)
- Criminal behavior (violence again, human trafficking, promoting hate crimes or terrorist activities)
- Violations of safety (bullying, harassment, sexual exploitation, suicide, self-harm)
- Violations of intellectual property, including copyright or trademark infringement
Does my landing page URL match the URL in the ad?
If it doesn’t, that could be a sign of spam or misleading content, and Facebook doesn’t take kindly to that. Make sure your URLs match.
Do my images contain more than 20% text?
In the past, Facebook would reject ads with images that contained more than 20% of text, but they’ve changed their stance a little. Now, it’s more of a graduated scale where amount of text is inversely proportional to reach.
- Image text: OK – Your ad will run normally.
- Image text: Low – Your ad’s reach may be slightly lower.
- Image text: Medium – Your ad’s reach may be much lower.
- Image text: High – Your ad may not run.
Does my copy contain references to their personal attributes?
You cannot explicitly reference personal attributes in an ad. In Facebook’s own words, “This includes direct or indirect assertions or implications about a person’s race, ethnic origin, religion, beliefs, age, sexual orientation or practices, gender identity, disability, medical condition (including physical or mental health), financial status, membership in a trade union, criminal record, or name.” Facebook gives lots of examples here.
Does your copy make the user feel bad about themselves or like they’ve been singled out? It’s super important to Facebook that users have a positive, happy experience on their platform, and any ads that are perceived as negative, point out flaws or struggles are going to be rejected pretty quickly.
For example, if you offer weight loss coaching, ad copy that asks, “Do you need to lose weight?” will make the user feel self-conscious or ashamed. Instead, focus on the positive. “What if you had so much energy that your kids couldn’t keep up with you?”
Facebook also doesn’t want to make it obvious why users are seeing your ads because, well, it creeps people out that Facebook knows so much about them. So instead of saying, “Meet other bocce ball players in your area!” (which users may not like because it reminds them that Facebook knows they’re single), try something like this, “New bocce ball league forming!” so the users can determine themselves if they want to identify as bocce ball players (and why wouldn’t they?!?!)
A lot of people say that using “you” or “your” will cause a Facebook ad to get rejected, but it really depends on the context. “You need to lose weight” is a much different message than “Your dream wedding venue is waiting for you!” The same goes for “other” – if you say “meet other singles in town!” you’re identifying a personal attribute, but ad copy that refers to selling “more barbeque than any other rib joint in town!” is not.
If I’m referencing Facebook anywhere in the ad, am I following their brand standards exactly?
Because news flash – Facebook is pretty picky about their brand. Learn more about their brand standards here in their Advertising Policies.
Does the ad use proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.?
Look, we all know that social media has made us lax on using the English language properly. That’s fine if you want to do that on your news feed posts, but it’s a no-no for ads. Make sure your ads sound professional – not just for Facebook’s approval, but for your user’s confidence in you! If it sounds like a three-year-old wrote your ad, it probably won’t inspire much confidence in your offer. Unless your target audience is 3-year-olds. Who aren’t old enough to be using Facebook anyway. So never mind.
ALSO, MAKE SURE YOU DON’T USE ALL CAPS IN YOUR AD COPY!
It’s long been understood that using all caps on the internet is the equivalent to shouting, and there’s already enough shouting on Facebook. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use all caps AT ALL in your ad copy – just use it strategically and for emphasis. Otherwise, sentence case is best (that’s where you capitalize the first letter of the sentence and of any proper nouns. You know, the way you learned to write in school.)
Am I being a jerk?
You might think, “Well, duh, Lynley. Of course I’m not going to be a jerk in my ads.” But remember that rules are made because somebody made them necessary. You cannot prey on vulnerable users with predatory ads. You cannot bully or demean people with your ads. You can’t post disruptive video ads that annoy users. You can’t be a jerk.
Can any of my ad copy or creative be considered spammy?
You know what spam looks like, and you know when you’re spamming people. Just don’t do it. See “Am I being a jerk?” above.
Does my landing page follow all of these rules, too?
A lot of people don’t realize that Facebook’s AI looks at the destination pages of your ads, too. Make sure that your landing page is following the same guidelines or your ad may get kicked back.
Along the same lines, your ad copy needs to align with your landing page. If your messages or creative are conflicting, it’s going to raise a red flag. Don’t mislead someone with ad copy that directs them to a page selling something different. It’s not nice, and Facebook won’t like it.
But what if I follow all of these guidelines to a T, and my ad is STILL rejected? WHAT NOW, LYNLEY?
All is not lost. Remember that when you first submit a Facebook ad for approval, Facebook’s AI is evaluating it, and while it’s pretty darn smart, it’s not perfect. If your ad is rejected and you’re confident that your ad follows their guidelines, then do the following:
- Contact Facebook Support here. Be aware that some people have access to FB Chat, and some people don’t (and nobody can give a good explanation of who does and who doesn’t). If you don’t, contact them via email instead.
- Very nicely, with a smile on your face, ask them if they could help you figure out what’s going on with a rejected ad. Assure them that the ad is not violating whatever policy it states in the rejection message (which may or may not make any sense anyway), and be able to back it up with specifics.
- Thank them profusely for their willingness to help.
- Hopefully, once a human looks at your ad, they’ll realize you’re not in violation and they’ll approve your ad asap.
- When that happens, thank them profusely again and then sing their praises on Facebook. They like that.
Remember – Facebook depends on businesses like yours to make money, and in general, they want you to be happy so you keep buying ad space from them. But they also have 2 billion users to keep happy, too – and that’s pretty tough to balance. Assume good intentions and ask them for help – don’t demand it or get your knickers all in a twist – and it’ll probably turn out okay.
If you go through all of this and your ad is STILL rejected, it may be time to call in a professional. Drop me a note here on LinkedIn and let’s take a look!