12.9 Blog (2)


After you’ve run enough ads on Facebook, you start to realize that it’s pretty easy to accidentally run afoul of Facebook ad content guidelines. Facebook has rules that don’t just apply to obvious topics like drugs and alcohol, but other, perhaps more innocuous topics as well. I’ve had ads inadvertently rejected for some surprising reasons, and some reasons where I still don’t know to this day what Facebook’s issue was.

I’ve always wanted to put together a Christmas Naughty List of some kind. Something about it just sounds right to me. So here you are: your handy checklist for the naughty little things that could get your ad sent back…

Seems pretty straight forward. But I’ve accidentally left the age targeting for a bar/restaurant client at the default “18”, rather than the alcohol-appropriate “21”. Oops.

2) Any Products That Might Be Dealt With By the ATF

Facebook would prefer that you sell stocking-stuffers like firearms, tobacco, or explosives through a different ad platform. Ads for the sale of alcohol might be a little more feasible if the targeting is age-appropriate for the relevant country.

3) Adult Products or Services

And speaking of stockings, Facebook doesn’t have much tolerance for strip clubs and the like. Interestingly, Facebook objects to both suggestive ad content AND adult products/services. This means you can’t advertise risque products even by clever innuendo. More on this coming up.

4) Trademarked Content

Only naughty little children use other children’s branded toys. I’m not sure yet if this would apply to ads showing a video of someone singing the (notoriously trademarked) “Happy Birthday” song. Someday I’ll try it and let you know.

5) Adult Content

Do Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus sleep in the same bed? I don’t know, any neither will you under Facebook’s advertising policy. Facebook prohibits both overtly sexual content and also any kind of suggestive content. In their guidelines, they post a picture of the type of suggestive adult content that they prohibit. I seriously considered reposting it here and drawing little Santa hats on the people…

6) “Shocking, Sensational, or Disrespectful” Content

With this point and the next point, we’re starting to talk about the types of content that require more of a judgment call. One of our clients, for example, deals with the aftermath of car accidents. The obvious ad to post would depict a crumpled car. I, for one, don’t consider that shocking. Compared with even network news, it’s pretty banal.

Facebook disagrees. Here’s their example:

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 8.35.00 AM

7) Content That Asserts or Implies Personal Attributes

This point took me a while to get my head around. We have a client that offers bankruptcy assistance. The obvious ad headline is “Need Bankruptcy Help?” This headline would be perfectly acceptable on other major ad platforms like Google Adwords.

Not so with Facebook, because it implies a personal characteristic of the person viewing the ad (in this case, financial status). Same with text like, “Want To Lose Weight?”, “Meet Other Christian Singles”, etc. Here are the characteristics you can’t state or even imply:

  • Race
  • Ethnic origin
  • Religion
  • Beliefs
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation or practices
  • Gender identity
  • Disability
  • Medical condition (including physical or mental health)
  • Financial status
  • Membership in a trade union
  • Criminal record
  • Name (How do you even do this one?!)

8) Deceptive or Misleading Content

Little liars don’t get presents. Little liars get coal.

9) Content That “Exploits Controversial Political or Social Issues for Commercial Purposes”

Is there a “War on Christmas?” Maybe, maybe not. But you can’t sell anything with it.

10) Ads with Scammy Technical Practices

Non-functional or system-hijacking landing pages, introduction of malware, animation or video that tries to activate without being clicked or take over the Facebook newsfeed screen, and images of “nonexistant functionality” (e.g. a picture of a “play” or “download” button on your graphic that doesn’t actually do what it pretends to).

11) Bad Grammar

Yes, Facebook has The Grammar Police. You didn’t think that was a real thing, but it is.

There you have it. Violate any of the items on this Naughty Checklist, and a kindly little Facebook Elf will put a polite but stern little gift in your stocking. Keep this little checklist with you all year round, and Santa will be nice to you.

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