There are a lot of reports that Facebook’s “20% Rule” has been phased out and no longer applies. While the technical “20% Rule” is no longer a measurement, there are still rules regarding text in ad images and Facebook has not completely ditched the 20% Rule.

What is the 20% Rule?

One of Facebook’s rules for advertising was the 20% Rule, ads with more than 20% text in the image would not be approved to run. There was even a grid tool that could tell whether or not an ad would be acceptable by the amount of text it contained.

Per the Facebook Guidelines:

Allowed in the 20% text policy:

  • Pictures of products that include text on the actual product
  • Photos of products in real situations or photos of products with a background

Not allowed in the 20% text policy:

  • Images that are zoomed in on logos/images with text overlay
  • Images that are clearly edited to include text on the product as a loophole to policy
  • In the past week there have been a few blog posts and many Social updates stating the end of the 20% Rule.

However, this is not the actual case.

“To help advertisers achieve their business goals while providing people with an enjoyable experience on Facebook, we’ve had a policy limiting excessive text (more than 20%) on images in ads. We’re always looking for ways to improve the experience for people and advertisers, which is why we’re testing a new solution that will allow ads with text to run, but based on the amount of text in an ad’s image, the ad won’t reach as many people. We will continue to monitor how this test impacts advertisers as well as people and will iterate to ensure we are creating the best possible experience. We’re testing in certain situations but are not changing the policy across the board at this time.” (Facebook Spokesperson via Jon Loomer)

So, while some are seeing a change in the amount of text they can use in ads, it is not a “formal” rule change. Facebook now categorizes ads into 4 areas:

  1. OK – Little to no text in the image.
  2. Low – An image with just a bit of text.
  3. Medium – An image with just a bit of text and the company logo.
  4. High – An image with a lot of text.

While the “High” category does break the 20% rule, the ad may still be approved. However, though it is approved it may not be shown to anyone.

So, it is still recommended to have little to no text in an ad, and Facebook states:

“Facebook ads that contain images with little to no text tend to cost less and have better delivery than ads with image text.” (Jon Loomer)

There are exceptions to the rule:

  • Movie posters
  • Book covers
  • Album covers
  • Product images: Where an entire product can be seen, and not just a zoomed in image of the product
  • Posters for concerts/music festivals, comedy shows or sporting events
  • Text-based businesses: Calligraphy, cartoon/comic strips, etc.
  • App and game screenshots
  • Legal text
  • Infographics

So, while the 20% Rule is not “officially” in place anymore and text on an ad image is technically allowed, it is probably best to continue to “unofficially” stick to 20% text or less in an ad for optimum results.