Ever had a Facebook ad not approved?
One of the most common questions I get asked is “WHY was my Facebook ad not approved?!”
It’s annoying and confusing. You spend time crafting an ad you’re proud of, you hit publish and then… computer says no… Facebook disapproves your ad.
If you’ve been there, you’ll know it can be difficult to know what exactly caused the disapproval. Not just that, but Facebook isn’t scared of closing your ad account if you get too many disapprovals. Yikes.
In this article, I’m going to walk you through the main reasons your Facebook ads may not be approved and how to go about getting them approved when it happens!
So, you wanna learn how to stay on Facebook’s good side? Let’s do this…
Facebook Ad Policies Are Strict… But why?
First of all, it’s important to know that Facebook has very strict advertising policies. Which can be annoying… but they’re strict for good reason.
Understanding why Facebook are so strict is super important. As by just understanding their logic will help you keep on their good side… most of the time!
Facebook have three goals.
1. To have more users on the platform
2. To have their users spend more time on the platform
3. If they achieve the first two goals, the third goal is inevitable: more advertisers and thus, more revenue
Facebook wouldn’t have advertisers spending money on the platform if there wasn’t any users. Facebook relies on being able to keep users coming back to the platform.
And thus, it’s vital for Facebook to protect the experience of their users. If Facebook were to allow any old spammy ad up, the users would have a poor experience. And if they had a poor experience, they wouldn’t come back to the platform.
And if they didn’t come back to the platform, there would be less advertisers willing to spend money there. Facebook’s ad revenue for Q1 of 2019 was reported as $14.9 BILLION. So it’s kind of a big deal for them…
What I’m alluding to here is this… Facebook’s priority is ensuring the users have a great experience when they use the platform. They need to be strict to protect the experience.
Whenever you create Facebook ads, it’s important to think about the human on the other side of the ad. As simple as that sounds, it’s something that’s so often overlooked.
We know user experience is Facebook’s number 1 priority, and it should be ours too.
In fact, this isn’t just relevant to Facebook ads, it’s relevant to every form of marketing you ever put out.
It can be too easy to pander to the algorithm and robots. At the end of the day, we’re trying to communicate with human beings in a way they want to be communicated to. If you do this, chances are you won’t break any of Facebook policies and your ads will be approved.
Ad Review Process
With all that in mind, let’s talk about the ad review process, so you understand how that works.
When you create ads on Facebook, they will automatically go through Facebook’s review process. This determines whether they comply with the advertising policies or not. They are looking at everything from:
- Ad images
- The content on your landing page (this catches a lot of people out!)
It’s important to know that your ads aren’t all being reviewed by individual people. Facebook has over 7 million advertisers… that’s a lot of ads being created every day. The ad review process is likely a mix of algorithmic and manual analysis, but there’s nothing concrete from Facebook on how their process works.
How long does it take for your Facebook ad to be approved?
The ad review process can take anywhere from 5 minutes to a couple of days, but most ads should be reviewed within 24 hours. There are a few things I believe can help your ads get reviewed faster:
- Quality score – I’m almost certain there’s some level of trust/quality score for all ad accounts. I very rarely have disapproved ads, and most of mine are approved within 10 minutes… which makes me believe there’s a quality score involved (ie, my ad account is trusted by Facebook and therefore fast tracks approval). If you continue to get ads disapproved, your quality score will drop and future ads will take longer to approve.
- Image analysis – There has been times where I’ve run ads with pictures of people in them and Facebook has disapproved based on ‘cleavage’ being in the picture. Even if there’s wasn’t cleavage. This makes me think Facebook will algorithmically analyse images that are being used. It would be pretty easy for a human to spot an error like that, but a robot? Perhaps a little harder.
- Domain/score – There’s likely an element of checking the domain you’re advertising too as well. For example, if you’ve advertised to a specific URL before, it’s likely to be approved faster than a brand new one.
Sometimes it may take longer than the 24 hours, so be patient. But, if you feel like there’s an issue, you can always contact support to request a manual review of the ads. I’ve had to do this quite a few times. Normally they’re pretty good at sorting your issue out quickly.
Why Was My Facebook Ad Not Approved?
If you read Facebook ad policies, you’ll notice just how strict they are. There are hundreds of reasons your ads may be disapproved. But Facebook says the top three reasons for ad disapproval are:
1. Too much text in image
If your advert has more than 20% of the image’s area covered by text, your ad may not be shown.
Facebook claims using images with minimal text makes your content more engaging (ensuring that people have a good experience).
The 20% rule isn’t as strict as it used to be, so you might find ads that previously wouldn’t run may run now. However, it’s still best practice to reduce the amount of text in your ad images if possible.
Facebook has a really neat tool called the ’Text Overlay Tool’ which allows you to upload your image and see whether it is suitable. I’d suggest doing this if you have any concerns about specific images you want to use.
2. Age-restricted material
The second most common reasons ads are disapproved is due to age-restricted material being shown to an audience that’s too young.
For example, adverts for alcohol must meet certain guidelines on age, based on local laws. This means you need to target people above the age of 18 in the UK and above the age of 21 in the USA.
These restrictions come under Facebook’s ‘restricted content’ policies, which includes things like dating, gambling and supplements. You’re allowed to advertise these things, but you have to do it in a way that meets Facebook policies.
You can learn more about the restricted content here.
3. Mentioning “Facebook”
The third most common reason for Facebook ad disapproval is mentioning “Facebook” in your ads.
You are allowed to use “Facebook”, but there are certain rules you need to abide by, such as:
- Writing it with a capital F
- Displaying “Facebook” in the same font, size and style as the content surrounding it
Just the usual branding stuff
But unless you’re advertising a product on Facebook, I’m sure this one doesn’t apply to the majority of people reading this. So, moving on…
More Reasons Your Facebook Ads Were Disapproved
Using Before vs After pictures – One of the most common reasons I see ads being disapproved in the health/fitness space is by using before & after images.
For example, a personal trainer can’t show before and after pictures in their ads.
Facebook claims images like this may imply or generate negative self-perception.
Now, you could argue that that’s a load of nonsense… but those are the rules, unfortunately!
Instead, what you could try is a picture of just the ‘after’ image, and share the story of that person. For example ‘here’s Jim who’s just had a hair transplant. Read his story here!”
Misleading or false content – This is similar to the point above. You’re not allowed to advertise “deceptive, false or misleading content, including deceptive claims, offers or business practices”
This is to stop clickbait, such as “One crazy tip to lose weight!” Or “Earn 15% more profit every two weeks!”
Even if your claim isn’t false, just be careful making claims that Facebook might consider to be false or misleading. For example, if you say ‘earn 15% more profit every 2 weeks’, it’s unlikely that EVERYONE will see those results.
The best way to get around this is to go down the education route. Such as “learn how to lose belly fat with this free guide” or, “Learn how Jim was able to earn 15% more profit after two weeks”. We teach people how something happened, rather than making claims that the user could see those results.
Asserting or Implying Personal Attributes – You don’t want to ever write the ad in a way that could be personal to the user (in a negative or creepy way). For example, you aren’t able to write things like “are you suffering from knee pain?”, because that is, in Facebook’s view, focussing on a negative personal attribute
We also aren’t able to say things like “Are you pregnant?”. Although it’s not necessarily pregnant, it’s creepy. Which could lead to a ’negative experience’ for the user.
Again, to get around this, go down the educational route. For example, “Learn how people with chronic knee pain are finding relief through…” or “Being pregnant can be tough…”
The same people will be interested, but you’re not calling them out.
Advertising Prohibited content – As per above, there are certain things Facebook don’t let you advertise about, such as illegal products or sale or use of tobacco or drugs.
If you need to get around this, go down the educational route of teaching people about what you’re trying to sell. Just be aware, if it leads to the sale somehow, Facebook will still disapprove the ad.
What should you do when your ad is not approved?
If you find yourself on the wrong side of Facebook’s ad approval, you have a couple of options:
1. Edit the ad
The first thing you want to do is go into your ads manager, find the disapproved ad, click on ‘edit’ and often Facebook will tell you why it’s been disapproved. Chances are, it’ll be something I’ve covered above.
If it is, go ahead and edit the ad to make the change they’re asking you for. This might be as simple as changing your Facebook ad copy, imagery or URL. Once you’ve made the change and hit publish, your ads will go back into the review process.
Hopefully, that does the trick and your ads will go live!
2. Appeal the decision
If you don’t agree with Facebook’s decision (which happens a lot!) you can appeal the ad. Follow the same process as before by going to the ad and clicking edit. A red box will appear with the reason your ad has been disapproved. In that red box, there should be an option to ‘request review’.
Click that, enter why you think the ad should run and then wait. Your ad will go through the manual review process.
Hopefully, your ad will then be approved. If not, they’ll ask you to edit it. If you don’t get passed the manual review, agree or disagree, your only option is to follow their advice and edit the ad.
I strongly suggest making the changes they ask you to do and don’t try and cheat the system as you don’t want a black flag against your account.
There we go, the complete guide to Facebook ad approvals and how to stop your ads getting disapproved. I hope you find this useful, if and when it happens to you!
One thing we have to remember when we use an advertising platform like Facebook is: we’re playing on their park…
…so we need to play by their rules (despite how much that might suck sometimes).
Best of luck with your ads