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The Facebook Ads platform is intended to allow users to interact not only with each other, but also with companies. Therefore, the advertising platform has a number of rules in place to ensure user safety and the credibility of businesses present on Facebook.
Basic principles of advertising on Facebook
The official Facebook Ads advertising standards provide quite detailed guidelines on permitted and prohibited types of advertising content, as well as applicable rules and even tips for advertisers.
The areas of the guidelines can be divided into four main categories – personal references, adult content, use of Meta brands in advertising and general advertising restrictions.
The guidelines regarding personal characteristics are quite clear – the advertising we publish should not refer to or imply specific characteristics about the recipient, such as race, origin, age, religion, beliefs, gender identity and orientation, or even health condition or financial problems. This is to maintain a positive experience for individual users.
How does this translate into advertising? If the content or graphic materials used for the campaign in their communication declare what our recipient is struggling with, which may make him feel worse on the platform – this should be avoided. This does not mean, however, that we cannot offer services that respond to this at all (for example, promoting health solutions or recruitment for research), but it is important that the recipient of the message can assess for himself whether the problem concerns him or her and whether the offered product interests him or her.
For example, if we address users with the message “Do you have [dolegliwość]? Explore Offer X,” it will be negatively perceived, and compliance checking mechanisms may not even let an ad with such content through. Instead, we can focus on offering a solution, for example, “Explore solution X on [dolegliwość]” followed by a presentation of the advantages of the offer.
The rules for adult content, on the other hand, are primarily concerned with avoiding erotic overtones. We’re not just talking about content clearly from this industry, but also cases where an overly defiant photo is meant to promote other products/services – in which case it could also be perceived as a violation of this guideline. The few exceptions are ads related to art and health – with recognition that nudity can be presented in many contexts. Political satire is also allowed in one of the disclaimers. However, the rules are very precise and leave no doubt as to what is acceptable and what is not.
As for the use of Meta’s brands – if we are targeting Facebook/Instagram advertising, for example, redirecting to specific pages or events, limited mentions of “Facebook” or “Instagram” in our ad text are acceptable to emphasize the destination of the ad. However, they should not use any of the Met’s brands so prominently that it is the most prominent element. Meta brand resources should also not be modified for appearance or color, or for special effects purposes.
Szczególne kategorie reklam Special categories of advertising
For select industries, Facebook has gone a step further in preventing discrimination and misrepresentation. Four sectors can be mentioned – credit, employment, real estate and the broader category of social issues, elections or politics.
The selection of a particular ad category is made at the ad campaign level – which also affects our targeting capabilities. We can no longer rely on the exact age criteria of the target audience, nor will there be very numerous targeting categories available, such as parents of children in certain age groups. If we fail to do so, even though the ad directly relates to any of the industries, our content will be rejected.
In the case of employment, of course, this may affect the quality of the campaign somewhat – with a particular focus on behavioral categories that would allow for more precise targeting of those working in the sector, but which are not available. Despite everything, however, I understand such a decision.
The category of social issues, elections or politics also requires the advertiser to present itself as the sender of the message. In this case, the mere name of the profile is no longer enough – the company referring to these topics should provide its name, address and contact options. It is worth noting here that this caveat also applies to products from other industries if they can somehow touch on a social topic – sometimes it is a matter of individual decision of the reviewer, especially when reconsidering the request.
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Unacceptable content on Facebook
Facebook also has a number of rules regarding the very products and information being promoted. In addition to the obvious things like illegal products and services or false information, we will not promote provocative content. Taking care of the safety and comfort of users also means prohibiting the promotion of products through misleading practices, such as phishing.
We also will not promote dangerous substances, weapons or ammunition, or tobacco products – all in an effort to protect the user from content that may negatively affect their health and safety. However, it is possible to advertise products aimed at facilitating tobacco cessation, but they must be approved by the WHO and comply with local regulations and standards.
In the case of alcohol, local legal restrictions – whether or not alcohol products can be promoted in a particular country – play a primary role. Even if such promotion is allowed in our campaign’s target country, Facebook will still expect us not to direct such content to people under 18.
Only adults can also be targeted with ads related to weight loss, promoting aesthetic medicine treatments or encouraging the use of supplements.
Low-quality content, among which are landing pages that act in unexpected ways or clickbait headlines designed to generate traffic or other interaction by sensationalizing statements, will also not pass inspection.
Promoting products to improve appearance or health can also be sensitive. Advertisements should neither imply that the recipient has negative self-esteem, nor lead to it themselves, in order to benefit from selling products to remedy it.
Admittedly, I’ve more or less outlined Facebook’s limitations, but it’s impossible to list them all, so if you want to read the full list of rules, I encourage you to visit the source – that is, the Facebook Ads Standards.
How does ad verification work?
Facebook Ads’ ad verification system primarily uses automated technology – which is understandable given the scale of this advertising medium. Sometimes, however, such control is performed by employees to improve automation or verify certain advertisements. Ads are checked for violations, but not all rules are checked right away. It is not an uncommon situation that a particular material may be rejected from broadcasting late if it does not pass re-verification. The verification process can usually take up to 24 hours, so if starting on a particular day/time is important to you, it’s a good idea to set up your campaign in advance.
If our message is rejected by the Facebook Ads platform, it is usually at the edit level of the rejected ad that we will get a more detailed explanation of which rule we broke and how. Particularly in the case of guidelines for specific characteristics of the recipient, it happens that the refusal of approval occurred wrongly – in this case, we can send the ad without changes for re-verification, and in case of more serious doubts, use Facebook support.
Repeatedly posting material that breaks similar rules to material that has already been rejected can result not only in restrictions on the ads themselves, but also on company activities in general, for example by limiting the operation of an entire advertising or business account. Stubbornness in this case definitely does not pay off.
Similar doubts on the part of the Met can be raised by very general advertisements that do not have precise business objectives and do not relate to the business of a particular company – an action that can be considered suspicious, and with multiple instances here, restrictions can also be imposed.
If you want to get a deeper understanding of FB advertising principles and good practices related to it, you can take our Facebook Ads training.
The Facebook Ads platform takes care of the quality of the ads displayed and a good audience experience. If you’ve ever wondered why you don’t see certain types of content on the portal – here’s the answer! Nevertheless, mistakes happen both ways – so if in doubt, it is worth appealing the decision, and if we are the ones who see some content that should not be there, we can also report such information to the system.
Certified specialist with many years of experience, with Up&More since 2016. Her campaigns have been awarded many times in prestigious industry plebiscites. He has experience with clients from the development, automotive and mobile application industries.