How to Get Around Facebook’s 20-Percent Text Rule on Ad Images

678 Shares Facebook 378 Twitter 175 Buffer 62 Google+ 23 LinkedIn 24 Pin It Share 16 678 Shares ×

facebook ads image 20 percent rule 700x365 How to Get Around Facebooks 20 Percent Text Rule on Ad Images

First of all, Facebook’s 20% rule that applies to the amount of text that can appear within images of News Feed ads is stupid. It’s poorly enforced. It’s inconsistent. It’s ridiculous that it applies to link thumbnail images.

Did I mention that I hate it?

Lately, most of my ads are getting through. Not all of them. But most. Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be the case for most (as you’ll see from the comments under this status update):

One of Facebook’s issues is that they appear to approve most of these ads, but then later reject them. So if you’re looking to run an ad for a short time anyway (which has been the case for many of my ads that seem to slip through the cracks), you may skate by.

But I noticed something else recently that’s more than a bit annoying. The amount of text often doesn’t matter. It all depends on the placement of that text.

The Evil Grid

Recently, I started a campaign that initially consisted of two ads. Both were link shares that used thumbnails that measured 400×209 to make use of the new, awesomely big real estate in desktop News Feed.

Those ads used two different images. Here they are:

one on one fb ads coaching gray How to Get Around Facebooks 20 Percent Text Rule on Ad Images

one on one fb ads coaching orange original How to Get Around Facebooks 20 Percent Text Rule on Ad Images

The two ads are nearly identical, barring some color differences. But guess what? Facebook rejected one of the ads — the orange one.

The reason? The 20% rule.

First of all, it’s pretty ridiculous that one made it through and one didn’t. And that ad with the gray image is still running a week later.

But when Facebook rejected that orange image, I was directed to their Grid Tool.

Upon uploading my orange image into the Grid Tool, that image was then displayed with 25 boxes over it. I was instructed to select the boxes that contained text.

facebook grid overlay rejected 700x280 How to Get Around Facebooks 20 Percent Text Rule on Ad Images

I wasn’t sure if my logo qualified as text (or the “GO” button for that matter), but I assume it doesn’t. Even without the logo, the text I used spilled over into six boxes. Facebook claims that means my image was (at least) 24% text.

But I quickly realized the text could be moved to fit snuggly within those boxes. So I moved the text — the size and everything else remained exactly the same — and tried again.

facebook grid overlay accepted 700x280 How to Get Around Facebooks 20 Percent Text Rule on Ad Images

Note that a sliver of the “g” in “Coaching” spills over into one box. Even if I were to count that box as well as the “GO” box, it would mean that my ad is now 20% text exactly.

So I resubmitted my ad. What do you know? It was accepted.

Get Frustrated or Use the Grid Tool

When you think about it, there is no true way to measure the percentage of text in an image. Since letters aren’t blocks, there will always be white space in between.

This is why using a grid is so inexact. It doesn’t really measure 20% text at all. It just measures whether there is some text within 20% of the squares within an arbitrary grid.

So, yes, it’s an insanely stupid rule. But you have two choices here:

  1. Ignore the rule, cross your fingers and get frustrated when your ads get rejected; or
  2. Use the Grid Tool to make sure that your text is in the right place.

I recommend #2. Be conscious of the amount of text within your image. Before you submit your ad, make sure that text is placed properly when you use the Grid Tool.

Your Turn

How about you? What are your experiences with the 20% rule? Let me know in the comments below!

678 Shares Facebook 378 Twitter 175 Buffer 62 Google+ 23 LinkedIn 24 Pin It Share 16 678 Shares ×
About Jon Loomer

Jon Loomer is a digital marketing consultant with a unique perspective on social media. He was introduced to Facebook in 2007 while with the NBA (back before Pages) and has been using Facebook for business ever since. Stay in touch by liking his Facebook Page (Jon Loomer Digital).

  • Mark Adams

    Jon: I have had the same exact experiences. 20% doesn’t mean 20% it means 5 boxes. Fortunately I have found FB is much more lenient on placing text as part of the image as you suggest.

    Now if we could just get FB to not disapprove ads after they approve and start running them. Kills the CPC when you have to relaunch a new ad, not to mention frustrating…

    Anyway, good post. Thanks. It’s reassuring to know other people go through the same aggravations…

    Best.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Oh, I HATE it when I get an ad that is killing it, and then it gets stopped. I can never replicate the success.

  • Susan Wilcox

    Jon: Had the same experience on Saturday. I took exactly the same steps and had the same results. Nice to see the process confirmed — you never know if you actually corrected something or if the second time you just were lucky enough “to get through.”

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Exactly! No consistency.

  • Fábio Lima

    Great Post Jon. Yeah, the “Go” button counts too. And your logo counts in the sum of the 20% rule, too. I agree with you, it’s such a ridiculous rule. Take care!

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      Thanks, Fabio!

      • Fábio Lima

        Thank YOU Jon for posting always great content! :)

  • webnavgal

    Keep waiting for them to change this requirement any day, too, as they did with the header spec. I have often had ads with text over 20% that don’t get pulled for a day or so. Great post, Jon.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      I wouldn’t be surprised if this goes away. That said, I see the need for it — at least the spirit of the rule. Facebook doesn’t want a bunch of banner ads cluttering the site, and this is basically what would happen. But there has to be a clearer rule to apply here!

      • webnavgal

        Yes, agreed. We still need the spam ad patrol.

  • Ahmed Ismail

    Great information! You might want to direct your readers to https://www.facebook.com/help/468870969814641/ as it gives the lead in to the screen you send them to, which is the upload screen.

  • Michelle Pescosolido

    Also what is stupid is when you upload a video straight to Facebook and they disapprove the ad because the video display images out of the 10 you are offered shows your screen that has text in it. Doesn’t sit well for me when I am trying to do screen shot video tutorials.

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      I hear you, Michelle. Use Power Editor and upload a custom image for the video that you know will pass.

  • Lori Harris

    I had the same experience; only I moved my text around before submitting the ad. And… in my case, facebook counted the logo.

  • Alejandro

    This is great. Thanks!

  • http://antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    Mate, I have had that same issue a few times in the past and then decided to do the same thing: I have created a 5×5 grid in Photoshop that I use to create my ads. No image rejected since then… But be careful: at times they could also consider call-to-action buttons and logos as part of the text!

  • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com @kylereed

    I have created a PSD for this very reason. I work with bands that post on FB regularly and we have to do this all the time. It is really hard to have album artwork there for a promoted post and get it in the 20% rule.

    And you are right, the inconsistency is enough to drive anyone crazy. I am hoping this changes very soon. But until then it will require me counting pixels.

  • Darrin Caldwell

    Jon,

    We just rely on the 20% Tool just to make sure that we keep our ad metrics clean. I don’t like having partially spent ads.

    A little bird did tell me that certain brands are getting a some leeway on the 20% rule. That is most likely why many of your ads are “sneaking by”.

    I think that like the whole no promotions in the timeline issue, this 20% rule will soon go by the way-side, especially with video ads looming on the horizon. What do you think?

    • http://jonloomer.com/blog Jon Loomer

      I think the 20% rule could go away, but I also think that the spirit of the rule makes sense. They just need a better and more concrete way to say they don’t want ads that basically look like banner ads. That’s my assumption — that this 20% rule is the temporary solution.

      Video ads are on hold, so I wouldn’t expect those to happen any time soon.

      • Darrin Caldwell

        I heard they are coming sooner than later, especially within Instagram; but these things always take time.

  • Shonda Rogers

    Thanks, Jon – i came back and read your post after an ad that WAS rejected started running – with no notice…except the bill…so i agree that the system is inconsistent! Thanks for the tip on using the grid.

  • Christina Ragusin

    The thing that bothers me the most about it is the grid is 5 across. So, you can’t have centered text or it will spill over into three boxes. It should be 6 across, or have more, smaller boxes. My OCD hates pushing text over to the sides!!

  • Andrie Schoombee

    Hi Jon, in my experience, text that slightly goes over the lines doesn’t add those boxes to your count. This can also be seen with the screenshots at https://www.facebook.com/help/468870969814641 and http://fbrep.com/SMB/TextPolicy.pdf, where you can clearly see some text that goes over the lines, but are not counted as a “red” block.

    What really ground my gears a while ago, is that I also had 2 almost identical ads, one got through, the other rejected. In the rejection notification mail, there was a link where you could query the rejection, which I did, then a day later I got a mail saying that it was a mistake, “sorry”, and that the ad is now running. I mean, come on!! I understand it can be quite complex to write an algorithm to enforce this rule, but seriously.. IMO, they should give a bit more leeway in terms of the images they reject – instead of rejecting everything above 20% (erm 5 boxes), rather reject anything above 6 or 7 boxes, and those in between can be sorted out by a human. An ad with 6 blocks text instead of 5 really won’t spoil anyone’s newsfeed.

  • Ryan Burchinow

    Right on Jon! Thanks for the post and the confirmation about the 20% rule being enforced on Link images.

678 Shares Facebook 378 Twitter 175 Buffer 62 Google+ 23 LinkedIn 24 Pin It Share 16 678 Shares ×