Facebook Advertising Guidelines: Targeting

Facebook Advertising Guidelines Targeting

This is part of a series of blog posts covering Facebook Advertising Guidelines.

I’m going to take a guess and assume you’ve never read the Facebook Advertising Guidelines. Most advertisers haven’t.

Facebook has actually created an easier to understand section within the Help Center; but again, it’s often ignored. In my attempt to lead a horse to water, I am essentially summarizing these two resources in this series of blog posts.

The rules associated with targeting Facebook ads are much easier to understand than those associated with imagery and language. It’s your lucky day. Let’s get at it…

If you are promoting something based on a sensitive topic like alcohol, dating or approved adult products, your ad could very well get denied based on targeting.

This is important to understand since it’s so easily missed. The first things you’ll look at when correcting your ad will be imagery and copy; targeting tends to be an afterthought.


You can’t target ads associated with alcoholic beverages to underaged users. This should be obvious. But if you advertising internationally, this can be a bit of a headache.

You need to understand your target markets. The minimum age of users you can target is different, depending on the country:

  • 25: India and Sweden
  • 24: Turkey
  • 21: Cameroon, Micronesia, Palau, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka and the United States
  • 20: Japan, Iceland, Thailand and Paraguay
  • 19: Canada, Korea, and Nicaragua
  • 18: Any other country (note exclusions and provisions in Ad Guidelines)

Exceptions: You can’t target these ads at users of any age in Afghanistan, Brunei, Bangladesh, Egypt, Gambia, Kuwait, Libya, Norway, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Russia or any other market where these ads are prohibited.


Want to promote your dating service? Well, be careful. Here are a few requirements…

  1. “Relationship” targeting must be set to “Single” or “Not Specified.”
  2. “Sex” targeting must be set to either “Men” or “Women.”
  3. “Age” targeting must be set to a minimum of 18 years.
  4. “Interested In” targeting must be set to either “Men” or “Women.”

These rules make sense. Facebook wants ads to be as relevant as possible. Users, though they often don’t admit it, also want this.

If a user is married, they won’t (typically) want to see dating ads. A single man interested in women wouldn’t want to see a dating ad targeted at men interested in men or women interested in men. And for obvious reasons, Facebook (and parents of the world) don’t want these ads targeted at minors.

So if users do not specify “sex” or “interested in,” it’s all too likely that they will be targeted incorrectly. As a result, Facebook eliminates them from this targeting.

Adult Products

I’m not sure how Facebook defines these, but there are apparently “approved” adult products on Facebook. I’ve never seen them, but I guess that has something to do with the way I use Facebook. It shouldn’t be a surprise that any ads promoting approved adult products can’t be targeted at minors.

Use Relevant Targeting

Whether or not Facebook actually denies your ad, it’s always a good idea to use relevant targeting. You want Facebook surfacing your ad to people most likely to be interested in your product. You don’t, and you’re throwing money away.

Have your ads been rejected for other targeting violations not listed here? Let me know below!