You read the rules, spent time optimizing target audience, double checked all the visual elements, and your Facebook ad is finally ready to go to market. You’re expecting the latest email from Facebook to be about billing details, and instead receive the dreaded (albeit common) rejection letter.
You’re left wondering how your your content have possibly violated the Community Standards. Turns out text like “Meet other seniors” or “Depression getting you down?” violates a “personal attributes” rule.
Directly addressing the user with terms like “you” or implications about identity like age, race, and gender aren’t permitted. So you remove that, only to find your ad rejected from the ad auction once again. There are hundreds of reasons the site can reject your ad.
You can quite literally spend hours pouring over Facebook’s Advertising policies, but we have a shortcut – Jane Manchun Wong put has together the most extensive list we’ve ever seen (click to enlarge).
Understandably, illegal content is rejected. You won’t find ads for drugs or counterfeiting services. Likewise, anything even kind of sexual or potentially offensive (like someone flipping the middle finger) violates the standards. No ads for mail order brides or anything the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would regulate either.
Okay, so obviously you can’t advertise illegal things on the mainstream internet. Especially not when Facebook is asking users to respond to surveys about if the company is good for the world.
However, there’s some grey area once you move past obviously unacceptable content. QR codes, a popular ad novelty, are a reason for rejection. Likewise, if your ad features a picture of Mark Zuckerberg, it’ll get slapped down.
Feel like mentioning the spy cameras? Nope. Have an ad about lasers? Nah. Animals? DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. Oddly enough, Instagram references aren’t allowed either even though Facebook owns the company.
Although Facebook is trying to uphold their values about safety, voice, and equity, enforcement of these principles is often flawed.
Bra and underwear retailers struggle to get their ads approved even if the content is not sexual in nature. An ad by Harper Wilde, an online bra startup, featuring a plain bra on a colored background was rejected on the grounds that the link leads to a site featuring adult content.
Since Facebook rejects anything focused on a single body part or that is too zoomed in, exposed bodies on an underwear site certainly violate the terms. While Facebook is attempting to hold up a moral code of not offending users, implementation isn’t consistent.
Although Facebook technically has a link to appeal disapproved ads, users report the link is either broken, or returns an auto-generated response with no way to follow up with a person.
We can certainly appreciate that Facebook now bans the obnoxious “before-after” gifs of someone’s belly fat disappearing to the backdrop of a tape measure, and rejects blatantly offensive material.
Attempting to provide higher quality content that doesn’t shame or offend users is a noble goal.
But when everyday products can’t be advertised, and robots are enforcing grey area, it’s time for a better appeals process. At least now you know what not to include in your next Facebook ad, even if it is legit.