you absolutely cannot make it known to them. Before your campaign lands on your audience’s feed, it needs to pass the Facebook ad review first. It’s the litmus test that greenlights your ad for launch, and in the worst case, block it entirely. 

It’s not uncommon for an ad to get disapproved; in fact, it’s likely to get approved on your first try. But newbie or not, rejections hurt. So this guide exists to help you get approval for your ad. This covers the review process, how long it takes, and, most importantly, get you up to speed on the things prohibited content your ad should not contain. 

How does Facebook ad review work?

There are an estimated 3 million businesses that advertise on Facebook. For Facebook to manage to sort through the ads for approval, it employs a combination of man and machine. 

While Facebook keeps the details of the ad review process under wraps, it’s widely agreed upon that the algorithm hands out the pass/fail verdict for humans to approve. Here’s what happens 2 hours after you submit an ad for review: the algorithm checks your ad for the basics: like compliance to the 20% rule. Then, it checks against violation of ad policies like inappropriate content, which includes guns, alcohol, drugs, and more.

The Facebook ad review process isn’t perfect, as proven by inconsistent review times. You’re in luck if your ad passes within minutes, others that pass easily will get revoked hours later. Other times you’ll be left waiting for 24 hours for the verdict, which will mess up your schedule if you’re running a tight campaign. If you’re sure your ad is well within the restrictions, you don’t need to worry. 

Ultimately, the long review process is just a waiting game; however, there are a few factors unrelated to your ad that affect it.

What factors affect an ad’s approval time?

The community of ad professionals believes that the following could affect your Facebook ad review time:

  • Facebook business account history. Publishing an ad from a page with a pristine reputation could put you on the express lane for ad approval. The ratio of ads that passed versus the ads that don’t, coupled with your good standing with Facebook (like on-time payments), will speed up the review.
  • Keyword analysis. The algorithm’s semantic analysis of your ad’s text would take longer initially, but shorter over time.
  • Domain analysis. If the external link on your ad leads to a newly-built website, the algorithm checks for malicious activity, resulting in a slower review.
  • Image analysis. Facebook checks for copyrighted logos, nudity, alcohol, and any violations to the ad policy, including the 20% image text rule. 

Why was your Facebook ad disapproved?

If Facebook disapproves your ad, they’ll send a notice of disapproval on your Ads Manager dashboard. With this notification comes a brief rundown of your ad’s offenses with a link to Facebook’s Ad Policies, which we’ll enumerate below.

Ad image has too much text

Violating the 20% image text rule is the most common reason for Facebook ads to get rejected. The rule of thumb is to keep the text on your ad image below 20% – that is having very minimal text cover the image, or not at all. You can use the Text Overlay tool to check. 

Before, Facebook used to block your ad from running if it goes over that limit. Nowadays, your ad can run, but at the cost impeding its reach. Here’s how your ad’s reach is affected by its image text rating:

  • OK – Your ad will runs normally.
  • Low –The ad’s reach may be slightly lower.
  • Medium – Much lower reach than the Low rating
  • High – Your ad may not run.

Tobacco products

Facebook allows promoting groups & blogs with a tobacco-related interest, but does not deal with the sale of tobacco or tobacco-related products. Anti-smoking campaigns are alright, along with counseling services for smoking addiction, and smoking rehabilitation programs or facilities.

Outright selling of tobacco and related products and implements (cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, hookahs, rolling papers, etc.) is banned. Imagery promoting smoking or depicting smoking imagery is forbidden as well.

Drugs and drug-related products

Don’t even try running an ad for prescription, recreational drugs, and illegal drugs on Facebook. Images of smoking-related accessories, medical or recreational marijuana, and implying the recreational use of drugs are not allowed.

Unsafe supplements

The list of unsafe supplements includes anabolic steroids, chitosan, comfrey, dehydroepiandrosterone, ephedra, and human growth hormones. However, Facebook has the sole discretion on what qualifies as an unsafe supplement. 

Weapons, ammunition, or explosives

It’s part of Facebook’s ad policy to disallow ads promoting the sale of weapons, ammunition, and explosives, but the sale of related accessories is not. Facebook has gone out of its way to cover which types of weapon-related advertising they approved, go check out this list here.  

Adult products or services & adult content

All adult product promotion is prohibited, except for ads for family planning and contraception. However, the ad must focus on the contraceptive features and not on sexual enhancement. Another caveat is that the ad can only target users aged 18 and older. 

Third-party infringement

You could get a strike for infringing copyright of any third party, and you could also report content that you feel infringes upon your rights. 

Sensational content

Facebook is not the place on the internet where you can shock and scare people. Don’t use images that are scary, gory or sensational.

Personal attributes

While your ad can target a specific demographic, you absolutely cannot make it known to them. What you can do is describe the promoted product or service (“New diabetes treatment available”), but the copy should not include characteristics of the targeted individual (“Do you have diabetes?”).

Misinformation

Ads that claim to be debunked by 3rd party fact-checkers, most notably those that invoke the name of a global organization, are prohibited. Repeat offenses of running ads with information deemed to be false will restrict your ability to advertise on Facebook. 

Controversial content

Ads exploiting controversial or political issues for commercial purposes will be disapproved. 

Non-functional landing page

As mentioned previously, Facebook checks the destination of your external link, which may add to the review time. Your landing page should be functional, match the product or service promoted on the ad, and doesn’t require downloading of software to be accessible. Furthermore, it shouldn’t impede the user’s ability to navigate away from the page. So if you’re planning to be sneaky with the exit button, think twice. 

Surveillance equipment

One of the things Facebook bans the outright promotion for is the sale of spy cams, mobile phone trackers, or hidden surveillance equipment. 

Non-existent functionality

Don’t bait your audience into clicking your ad by disguising a still image with the play button as a video. Facebook’s algorithm will find imagery replicating play buttons and the like on the ad image and will penalize you for it. 

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