6 Official Facebook Ad Rules You Might Be Guilty of Breaking

On January 11th, Michael Stelzner went live on Facebook and warned us that we’re approaching the “end of days” for Facebook Pages. And here’s the really scary part– as per usual, he’s not wrong.

Facebook marketing as we know it is about to change, with the decline in organic reach going from a trickle to a flood thanks to a new algorithm that will make it much harder for Page content to get noticed. While this will mean a lot of strategies changes for organic marketing, it also means that Facebook Ads are about to get even more important.

Even many small businesses that have previously avoided Facebook Ads will now be flocking to the system to get the kind of engagement and attention they need on big posts. Because of this, it’s essential to make sure that you’re running your ads correctly and abiding to Facebook’s official rules. This is particularly important because though Facebook Ads is known for an endless number of creative options, they’re a heck of a lot stricter when it comes to abiding by their official guidelines. And now, with the algorithm tanking Pages’ reach, you can’t afford to have your ad account suspended or banned.

We want to save you the hassle of that, so take a look at these six official Facebook Ad rules that you might be accidentally breaking, but definitely don’t want to.

1. Your Ad Needs To Match Your Offer

Your ad needs to match your offer, and both need to match your landing page that you send users to. While this sounds like common sense, it is actually surprisingly easy to break this rule on accident, especially if you get overwhelmed with ads and are creating multiple campaigns at once.

Sometimes, for example, users are taken to a website’s homepage and can’t find the offer or discount they saw on the ad. I’ve also seen cases where the ad is scheduled to run one day too late, and the flash sale it’s advertising is already over.

To avoid this, make sure that your messaging, offer, and product are all consistent on each ad campaign. Send users to designated landing pages if appropriate.

This ad, for example:

Facebook Ad rules

Precisely matches this landing page:

It may take some time to set up designated landing pages, but it will be worth it. Facebook will approve your ad, and you may see an increase in conversion rates, too.

2. Your Landing Page Prevents Users from Leaving

I’m not a fan of those “are you sure you want to leave” messages that make me think of what I used to see in the early 2000’s that were basically a guaranteed virus in a pop-up-box. And, as it turns out, neither is Facebook. Your ad cannot take users to a landing page that tries to prevent users from leaving. This includes showing them a “Wait! Don’t Leave! We’ve got a great offer!” message that appears when they go to click away from your site.

The fix to this one is exceptionally simple. Don’t use sketchy pop-up messages that only exist to keep users from leaving. (And even if you aren’t running Facebook Ads, go ahead and adopt this practice anyway).

3. Something Automatically Downloads

This is another exceptionally common mistake that Facebook really does not like. Per their guidelines, you can’t have anything set to automatically download when users click on your ad and land on your site. Where unaware businesses accidentally get hit with this is if the ad sends users to a page where the lead magnet they clicked to see (or entered their lead information to receive) automatically downloads. No harm or deception is meant in 99% of these cases, but it still breaks Facebook’s rules.

To workaround this, take users to a landing page that then has a CTA that gives them the option to “Download ebook now!” Another option is to have users enter their lead information, and let them know that you’d be emailing the lead magnet to them.

4. Your Ad Makes Implications About A Person’s Identity

Facebook Ads has a rule stating that ads can’t imply any personal characteristics of the users the ad is targeting. This can get a little tricky, because we all use buyer personas and careful targeting to reach certain types of people. Here’s how it comes into play: you can’t use your ad to actually make implications about a person’s identity. This includes:

  • race
  • gender
  • religion
  • disability
  • financial status

What exactly does this mean? The Penny Hoarder can still run campaigns that advertise resources on teaching people how to budget and save more, or get out of debt. They can even use targeting to show these ads to low-income people.

Facebook Ad rules you might accidentally be breaking

What you can’t do, however, is address the person based on their demographics; no headlines reading “Hey, broke person!” will ever get through the ad system.

5. Your Video Includes Use Copyrighted Music

Video ads have a ton of benefits on both Facebook and Instagram, but a lot of small business owners fall into the accidental trap of adding copyrighted music to their videos without thinking twice. Facebook has an official rule forbidding the use of copyrighted content, and late in 2016 they actually started cracking down on it.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t use music- it just means you have to know what you can use. An easy workaround is to utilize a service like Shakr; with a subscription with us, you’ll be able to utilize our copyright-free music (like the music in our example above) attached to the hundred of pre-made video templates, too. You don’t have to worry– we’ve got you covered there.

6. The Unofficial 20% Text Rule

Facebook used to have an official rule that said that all ad images couldn’t consist of more than 20% text. You could get a small logo and maybe a quick phrase like “Flash sale!” on the image, and that was about it; all other text was relegated to the headlines and descriptions of the ad. If your ad image was made up of more than 20% text, your ad would be rejected.

Here’s the thing. They did away with the official rule. They didn’t do away with the consequences if you broke it.

Facebook Ad rules you might be breaking

Facebook still rewards ads that have images with less text in the image. And yup, it has to stay under 20% or your ad will likely be punished by the system. This in turn can end up reducing your reach and the number of placements your ad gets as a result.

Play on the safe side. Keep your ad images– including your video thumbnail images– with a reasonable amount of text, and when in doubt, check Facebook’s text overlay tool (pictured above) to make sure you’re in the clear.

Final Thoughts

Failing to follow all the Facebook Ad rules closely could result in your account being suspended or banned. This is the last thing any of us need when the fate or organic content from Pages is pretty much up in the air. Keep your account in good standing by following all of their guidelines, keeping a careful eye out for the easy-to-accidentally-break rules we’ve discussed in this post.

What do you think? Are you guilty of breaking any of these Facebook Ad rules– even accidentally? Which rules have tripped you up before? 




Ana Gotter is a business writer specializing in social media and content marketing, though she writes on a variety of other niches and subjects. She can be contacted at anagotter.com.

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