Restricted and Prohibited: Facebook Ad Rules to Live by, Part 1 of 2

Whether managing ads for yourself or selling Facebook ads to a customer, it’s important to understand Facebook’s advertising guidelines clearly, particularly around restricted and prohibited content. Otherwise, your ad could get delayed or removed, and worse, your page could get flagged for publishing prohibited content.

Here’s Part 1 of our 2-part series on restricted and prohibited ad content. Part 1 focuses on restricted content.

Part 1: Restricted Ad Content

Get it Free (for now)!
You know how you can get suckered into signing up for something that auto-renews? Then a year later, you see it on your credit card bill and you think, “Oy vey!” Yeah, Facebook isn’t a fan either. Along with auto-renewal, there are restrictions for free-to-pay billing conversion products, mobile marketing (like push notifications and texting) and anything that includes negative options (which is when you require the purchaser to opt out, as opposed to opt in to any agreement).

Bet you’re not surprised to learn that there are restrictions about alcohol promotion, right? In addition to complying with local laws, they must also follow any industry codes, guidelines, licenses and approvals. And, in some countries, they are completely prohibited. Check the list on Facebook to make sure you know all the rules.

Drugs, Dating and Gambling
Putting these three together makes it sound a bit like a scene from The Hangover. On Facebook, the connection between dating, real-money gambling and online pharma is that in order to run ads in any category, you need to seek written permission from Facebook before submitting the ad. Ads that haven’t been granted permission won’t see the light of day.

Speaking of categories requiring written permission, there are also some strict rules regarding video ads that include film trailers, TV programs, video games, etc. where content is intended for mature audiences. In addition to written permission, they must also target 18+ audiences, and in some cases – when the content includes profanity, violence, drugs or alcohol use, for example –  the ad may be prohibited entirely.

Legal Herbs and Student Loans
Ads that promote student loan services or non prohibited dietary and herbal supplements are fine, as long as they only target users who are at least 18 years of age. For student loans, there are added restrictions for anything that might be deemed deceptive or promote loan consolidation, forgiveness or refinancing.

Winning the Lottery
Ads that promote state run lotteries get the proverbial thumbs up from Facebook, provided the ads are targeted appropriately. In other words, only to those who are able to participate and only in the areas where the lottery is available.

Sign Up for this Credit Card Today!
Still gettting those big, fat envelopes from financial services institutions in your mailbox on a near daily basis? The reason they are so big and fat is they have to provide sufficient disclosure regarding associated fees, including APR percentages transaction fees in the envelope. Well guess what? The same is true for these ads when they appear on Facebook. Furthermore, lead ads for financial services can’t ask for someone’s financial information or any other sensitive information, like passwords or social security numbers. More about what questions you can’t ask for in a lead generation ad will be available in Part 2 of this series.

When You’re Advertising Branded Content
This one is tricky, but makes perfect sense if you can get out of the jargon-y gobbledegook. What this really means is, if you are running ads that feature a 3rd party’s content, you have to 1) have a Facebook Verified Page and 2) tag the sponsor’s page in the ad. More detail (and jargon-y gobbledegook) can be found on Facebook’s policy page.

Lastly, there are a couple of rules about images that can bite you if you aren’t aware of them:

  • Let your image, not text, do the talking. Images with more than 20% text will be restricted in terms of delivery, which will impact the ad’s performance. Importantly, logos count as text, That little tidbit is often overlooked, so take note!
  • There’s this little rule called “non-existent functionality” that could pose problems for you if you aren’t aware. Basically, this one says your image can’t have any element – like a cursor or button, for example – implying that if clicked or tapped would cause something to happen.

Thanks for brushing up on all of Facebook’s restricted guidelines for advertising content. As always, there is more information on Facebook’s Advertising Policies page and we strongly suggest a thorough review:

Check back for the all important Part 2 where we’ll share the latest news on prohibited content!