I rarely have any issues getting my ads approved. I’m a good dude, and I promote some pretty innocent stuff. I also know that trying to get around Facebook’s rules is never a smart thing, so I do all I can to know and follow their guidelines.
But I routinely hear from others with far bigger problems than I face. They’re getting ads rejected or — much worse — getting their accounts banned.
I have mixed feelings about this. There’s a large number of shady, unscrupulous marketers out there who deserve to be banned. They suck, and I hope they never find a way back in.
But there’s also a group — possibly a smaller group — of well-meaning and generally above-board advertisers who find themselves lumped in with the jackholes. They’ve been rejected or banned, but they didn’t mean any harm. And they will do everything they can to remain within the rules.
But how easy is it to remain within the Facebook Advertising Guidelines? Here’s an overview of some — though not all — of the things you must and cannot do as an advertiser.
Note that while this is actually pulled from Facebook’s Advertising Guidelines, it’s somewhat tongue-in-cheek. There are actually cases in this list were items are repetitive. That’s because the guidelines are repetitive!
The main point here is that there are a lot of rules to follow, Facebook ultimately decides what does and doesn’t break the rules and things aren’t always clear.
1. Must comply with the Facebook Platform Policies
2. Contests and page posts must comply with Page Terms
3. No false, misleading, fraudulent, or deceptive claims or content
4. No management of more than one advertiser or client per ad account
5. Use of Custom Audiences must comply with Custom Audience Terms
Data and Privacy
6. No sharing of advertising data with outside sources
7. No use of ad data to build or augment profiles
8. You can use user data, but only with their consent and while following applicable laws
9. Don’t sell user data
Ad Creative and Positioning
10. Every part of an ad must be relevant to the product promoted
11. No audio or flash animation without a user’s interaction
12. Do not position in a sexually suggestive manner
13. Do not exploit political agendas for commercial use
14. Must include proper use of grammar
15. Must use symbols, numbers or letters per their actual meanings
16. Must be accurate and provide proper representation without deception
17. Cannot imply a user’s personal characteristics (race or ethnic origin, religion or philosophical belief, age, sexual orientation or sexual life, gender identity, disability or physical/mental health, financial status or information, membership in a trade union, criminal record, name)
18. Must lead to a functioning landing page that does not prevent the user from leaving
19. No more than 20% text in images
20. Targeting for alcohol must adhere to applicable laws
21. Targeting for dating must adhere to applicable laws
22. Targeting for adult products must adhere to applicable laws
23. Content must comply with all laws and regulations
24. All claims must be substantiated
25. Don’t be offensive
26. Content can’t be false, deceptive or misleading
27. No spam
28. Don’t promote illegal things
29. Don’t violate the rights of others
30. Video ads for health products can’t play automatically!
31. No promotion of adult products (ignore that point about targeting adult products in #22)
32. Contraception or family planning ads are okay — but sometimes
33. Promotion of alcohol is prohibited in 13 countries — and probably some other places, too
34. Sometimes you can promote alcohol, but only if you don’t break one of a whole bunch of rules
35. No dating sites with a sexual emphasis
36. Some dating sites are okay, but only if approved by Facebook
37. No promotion of illegal drugs
38. No promotion of tobacco
39. No promotion of drug or tobacco paraphernalia
40. Online gambling ads only allowed in certain countries and if approved by Facebook
41. Governmental run lotteries can be promoted, but only if targeting those in that jurisdiction
42. Offline gambling ads only allowed when no laws are broken and when properly targeted
43. No promotion of prescription drugs
44. Online pharmacies generally prohibited unless allowed by Facebook
45. Dietary or herbal supplements sometimes allowed unless involving a long list of stuff considered unsafe by Facebook
46. No links to spyware or malware
47. No unexpected, deceptive or unfair user experience, typically — but not always — involving software
48. No software that performs activities hidden to the user
49. No automatic downloads or surprise download dialog boxes
50. No software that infringes on rights of other software
51. If you’re going to run ads for subscription services, be sure to follow a whole lot of rules
52. Don’t promote business models like MLM or other stuff Facebook doesn’t like
53. Don’t promote weapons or stuff related to weapons
Ad Community Standards
54. If your ad gets a lot of negative feedback, Facebook might remove it
55. Your ad may be in violation of community standards if Facebook says it is
56. You can’t promote illegal stuff
57. You can’t harass, insult or bully others
58. You can’t impersonate others
59. No Hate Speech
60. No ads promoted to minors that may be considered inappropriate
61. No sex, nudity or provocative stuff
62. No shocking, sensational or excessively violent stuff
63. Don’t be stupid and imply an endorsement or partnership with Facebook
64. Very limited use of Facebook marks except as permitted by the Brand Usage Guidelines or if Facebook says it’s okay
Rights of Others
65. Don’t infringe on or violate the rights of others
66. Don’t break copyright laws
67. Don’t break trademark laws
68. Don’t mess with someone’s privacy
One More Thing…
Facebook reserves the right to reject, approve or remove any ad for any reason, in their sole discretion, including ads that negatively affect their relationship with users or that promote content, services, or activities, contrary to their competitive position, interests, or advertising philosophy. These guidelines are subject to change at any time.
In other words, don’t break any of the rules above, but… That doesn’t mean that if you don’t specifically break a rule above that you aren’t breaking a rule.
Learn About Rules for Landing Pages
What’s interesting is that the Facebook Advertising Guidelines say very little about landing pages, but Facebook actually has some very specific rules regarding them. Many advertisers are getting their ads rejected — and even accounts banned — as a result of breaking these rules.
I wrote a detailed post and recorded a video for Power Hitters Club members specifically to help you stay within Facebook advertising rules regarding landing pages. If you are a PHC member, you can read that post here.
Not part of the Power Hitters Club yet? Go here to get started!
Have you had issues with getting ads approved?
Let me know in the comments below!