A Critical Look at Facebook Ad Policies – Too Subjective to Understand

If you have done or are doing Facebook ads, you will know there are policies Facebook have in place to prevent content they deem unacceptable. This includes the ad copy, the creative used and the landing page. However, these policies have a fine line between what is and isn’t acceptable.

So, let’s take a look at some examples where the line is cut fine and find out if you truly know what makes it through Facebook’s approval system.

 

Ad Copy

According to Facebook’s Blueprint certification training, the policy for ad copy is:

Ads can’t assert or imply — directly or indirectly — that you know a person’s personal characteristics. This includes a person’s name, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability or medical condition, financial status, and more. You also can’t call attention to perceived imperfections.

Ad Copy Policy - Bad Example
Ad Copy Policy - Good Example

Time to test your knowledge - which one do you think would be accepted under Facebook’s policy?

Image courtesy of Facebook

Grammar & Vulgar Language

This one is straight forward to understand, Facebook want to make sure ads make sense and can’t be mistranslated from bad grammar. However, Facebook won’t pick you up on every missed comma or full stop, it’s anything blatantly noticeable.

Facebook don’t want profanity or insulting language. They have not released a list of unacceptable words, so the best practice is to avoid anything that could cause issue.

Other notable rules related to language is symbols, numbers and letters must be used correctly. Examples of misuse are:

  • ♧ ♥ ♡ ♢ ♢ Buy Now ♔ ♕ ♚ ♛ ⚜
  • Whÿ wónt yòu clîck mé?
  • Get the best f*&%ing t-shirts here.

 

Deceptive Claims

Here are the rules on deceptive claims from Facebook’s Blueprint training:

Your Facebook and Instagram ads can’t contain false, fraudulent, or misleading claims or content. Any claims that you do make have to be adequately substantiated.

Examples of deceptive claim are “get rich quick schemes” or other money-making opportunities that offer compensation for little to no investment. This includes multi-level marketing or similar business models that don't fully describe the product or opportunity leading to the advertised income. For your ad to be approved, you must promote complete transparency regarding participation and the business opportunity, as these opportunities tend to be frequently reported by people.

Here are a few examples:

  • “3 Shocking Tips to Lose All Your Belly Fat”
  • “Earn 15% profits every 2 weeks”
  • “You won't believe what you can eat to cure diabetes.”
  • Exaggerated claims, including exaggerated "tips" or "tricks"
  • Claims of unrealistic results within specific timeframes
  • False or misleading claims about product attributes, quality, or functionality

 

Landing Pages

Your landing page will also be checked in the ad approval process. So, if the page isn’t fully functional, doesn’t match the product/service being promoted or doesn’t comply with Facebook’s Advertising Policies your ad will be disapproved.

Here are some things to avoid:

  • Use landing pages with minimal original, low-quality or difficult to access content.
  • Excessive embedded or popup ads
  • The destination is linked to another location where the user must click to see the content
  • Landing Page is an error page or a site under construction
  • Landing Page is a PDF or JPEG file
  • Landing Page that automatically download files to the person’s computer

 

Creative

The creative is the most important part as this is what is going to ‘stop thumbs’ scrolling through their feeds. There are some strategies people have used in the past to stop thumbs that Facebook has deemed unethical. Here is a list of things you cannot do with your creative:

 

Misleading Buttons

Images that mislead a person by convincing them the ad has more functionality than it does are not allowed. An example of this is you can’t include a video play button in your creative, this falsely portrays the creative is a video when it isn’t. Another example is a Call to Action button that isn’t.

This all makes sense as Facebook want to keep the user happy. If the user gets fed up and leaves Facebook, you have no one to advertise to.

 

Health and Fitness

Your creative cannot include “Before and After” images or show unexpected or unlikely results. An example of this is a side-by-side shot showing dramatic weight loss or a side-by-side showing hair growth for balding men.

 

Sexually Suggestive

You cannot use sexually suggestive imagery such as implied nudity, overly sexual, excessive amounts of skin or cleavage or unnecessarily focuses on body parts (even in artistic or educational circumstances).

This is subjective as how do you measure what excessive amounts of skin or cleavage is. Even the example Facebook used that was considered ok can seem inappropriate to some.

Facebook Example of Acceptable Image

Facebook’s Example of an Acceptable Image

Also, what would be considered as ‘unnecessary focus on a body part’. Your ad could be approved or declined based on the approver you get. I have reported ads myself I thought showed unnecessary focus on body parts and not on the product, but Facebook came back and stated that it didn’t break their terms.

 

Shock and Scare Tactics

Adverts that are scary, gory or dramatized are not allowed. The reason is they may shock or elicit a negative response from the audience. Facebook want to promote more positive messages and want to avoid anything that may offend the user.

Unacceptable images include pictures of car crashes, and a person pointing a gun at the camera.

 

Facebook Best Practices

Facebook have created a video to help you with best practices, but there are a few examples that may seem acceptable to some

Video courtesy of Facebook

At around 1:57, they mention that you cannot have images that are offensive, bullying or threatening language, which is important, but the images they used as an example could be seen as acceptable to some viewers.

Best Practices Video 1
Best Practices Video 2

Summary

You can find a full list of ad policies here - https://www.facebook.com/policies/ads/

As you can see, the problem with the policies are that some are open to interpretation. Most of the time you will know if your ad is likely to be accepted or not, but for any case where it isn’t clear, you can contact Facebook’s Ad support through Messenger about the policy. You can find the link to support here - https://www.facebook.com/business/resources

Alternately, if you want to talk about improving your Facebook Ads, contact us on 01424 868 001 or fill out our contact form 

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