Facebook Ad Guideline “GOTCHAS” That You Probably Didn’t Know About

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SO.. I’ve been reading through the Facebook Advertising guidelines. (Thrilling way to pass the time, I know — but it’s my job to keep up on things like this… )

Anywho… After hours of reading through taking notes and making a list of “do’s and don’ts” for our team. I came across this one section all the way at the bottom of this page and found this…

1. Are You Trustworthy?

 

Wait… did you read that clearly? It says they’re using a tool to check if the website is trustworthy. That means, before ever checking your landing page, ad copy, ad image, and targeting… they’re first checking to see what other people THINK about you.

Here’s a quick 1 minute video about Web Of Trust and how to use it:

So, I followed this rabbit trail a little further and installed the chrome browser extension. Then headed to Google and searched a few sites of my clients, competitors and of course mine. The little tool showed an icon next to EVERY link in browsers, in my email, and even in my Facebook newsfeed. (NOTE: you can see the little green circle icon in the image above) Here are two examples from my newsfeed while writing this post:

 

Now that I’m certain they’re using this as step in their approval/disapproval process. I’m thinking this is a pretty important reputation to improve to maintain a positive rep with the ad account… especially if you’re business is reliant on Facebook Ads.

It was a pretty easy process to “claim my site.” You could choose to upload a simple text file to your cpanel or you could add a string of text to the head section of your website. (Don’t worry, non techy’s, they give pretty easy to follow instructions.)

Why is this really important to you?

Well…. let’s say that green dot turns into an orange or red dot. That means anyone clicking from Facebook to your URL get’s this warning before being redirected:

 

You don’t even have to have “malware or phishing” on your site.. if you have a negative rating for any reason this is the default warning that is displayed (from the research I did). This site goes on to show a possible “conspiracy” for gaming the WOT system and how harmful the negative rating is.

Monitoring our reputation on WOT has already been assigned to a team member. They are also responsible for ensuring that any negative comments are responded to and resolved quickly. I’m also recommending to all my clients to create a profile and ask their customers to leave honest ratings for their websites.

2. Is your Landing Page Working For You?

They have an entire section on JUST your landing page. In the past 2 months I’ve personally seen landing page alone be the cause of account shut downs. So let’s run through a couple important landing page guidelines:

1. “Destination URL: The destination URL must function properly in all browsers”

Yes, sounds simple… but if your not checking your page in internet explorer and on mobile then your landing page is harming your account. Tracking Links are actually the common culprit to catch you on this one. This is one of our “FB commandments” we ALWAYS check before submitting ads for approval. I find myself triple checking the links on “big” campaigns…

2. Geographic IP Address Restriction: Facebook Ads are reviewed from a variety of international locations. Therefore, if you are advertising an external website that is restricted to people in certain regions, your ad may be disapproved.

I haven’t personally seen this shut down an account, BUT I personally find this a little “unfair.” I know.. life’s not fair. BUT if I’m advertising to a US audience and my reviewer happens to be in let’s say… India… why should I be penalized for this. Either way.. you’re held responsible.

3. Pop-ups: Ads may not direct to landing pages that trigger pop-ups or pop-unders when someone arrives upon or exits the page.

This has been a Facebook Guideline for as long as I can remember. In fact, this is also on our “fb commandments” checklist I mentioned above. I’ve even had clients tell me they “got away with it.” Unfortunately with Facebook cracking down, we don’t even risk “getting away with it.” Follow the rules, or don’t whine when you get kicked.

4. Landing page: Landing pages must clearly and accurately reflect the product or service being promoted in your ad. In addition, landing pages must not contain content, products, or services prohibited by our Ad Guidelines

Remember back when Google used to opt-in to your landing pages to see where it sent the user next?

Yeah.. Facebook is doing that now. We’ve heard from a couple of sources that they’re checking the page after the opt-in. This is why we always recommend sending clicks to content that is optimized for conversions to your offer. This makes the argument Null and Void. Your ad says “they’ll learn XYZ” and the page they land on gives them “XYZ.” It just so happens that the article the Facebook ad sent them to has a highly relative offer to the article in the sidebar and at the end of the article. This isn’t by chance… it’s strategically crafted to make our ad dollars profitable.

Now, if on that article page you’re advertising or linking to an illegal or “prohibited” product not allowed to be advertised on Facebook… then the content will still be disapproved. The offers linked from the article lander still need to adhere to the FB Guidelines. This falls under the “landing pages must not contain content, products, or services prohibited” part of the line item.

5. Autoplay — Video ads for health products and services may not be allowed to play automatically.

Yep — if you’re still sending to a VSL… better add the controls back in. Facebook may not call them specifically “VSL’s” but when Justin spoke with the Facebook Approval Team (the team that makes these guidelines) they said they’d disapprove the typical VSL page Justin described. His description: “Typically, a white page with a headline and a video that plays — sometimes it has some text below and after a little while the button to continue pops up” Their reply… “yeah that doesn’t sound like something I’d approve even if the button was there the whole time… “

6. Claims — Ad copy must describe and represent the advertised or sponsored brand or product in an accurate and non-misleading way. Ads must not make unsubstantiated claims, including but not limited to price, performance and results. Any claim made in the copy should also be reflected on the landing page.

Probably one of the easiest ones to get disapproved for and the easiest one to fix… You see, in the make health, wealth and dating niches it’s easy to have that headline that says, “Now You Can Finally Meet that Perfect husband, Or Bankroll Your Retirement, or Lose 100 Pounds in Just 6 Months” BUT these are all claims.

I know that you were just getting the reader to imagine their future finally achieving that life long goal, but it’s still a claim. In our FB commandments checklist, we scan for claims in the ad copy and on the landing page. The easy fix here is to tell a story ABOUT someone achieving those goals. The reader can still relate to having similar goals as the person in the story and if written correctly the reader will actually put herself in the shoes of that character envisioning achieving those same results — without you ever having to say — “You can achieve these results.”

7. Privacy Policy — I didn’t want to add this one, but it’s the results of 99% of the ad disapprovals we see. Facebook users are already somewhat creeped out by what strangers can see about them online. Crime shows and lifetime movies aren’t helping this either…

No matter how you feel on the issue, Privacy is extremely important to Facebook users, which means it’s extremely important to Facebook. If you’re advertising you should have one… no matter what network you’re advertising in. Here’s a blog post we published on our research for writing our Privacy Policy

3. Are You “Exploiting” Current Events?

Ever seen an ad that goes something like this… “You’ll Never Guess What Obama is Up To Now” or “Wait Until You See What (insert political figure or government agency) Is Up To Now”

Yeah… those used to CRUSH it in Facebook. That is until Facebook slowly started tweaking their guidelines. It took about a year for it to be completely against the terms of service, but they’ve finally done it. These line items are on two separate pages and have lead to MANY ad disapprovals.

You see, you used to be able to use images of the White house, Obama, government agencies, etc as long as they were mentioned on your landing page (because it was relative). So if you’re running a survival offer and you mention changes in the government affecting your survival preparations in a blog post… YOU GUESSED IT.. disapproved.

You can have a legitimate article with full details on how one change in your local government will affect XYZ, and you can share that article on Facebook to your audience. But according to these line items, it would be disapproved if you tried to promote it with an ad because it “exploits political issues” or that you’re using the “political hot button for commercial use” or better yet, because you’re using “scare tactics.”

Um… have you seen the survival niche? The entire niche is based around the fear that a catastrophic event will happen and they won’t be prepared. The only “positive” thing to say is “be prepared” but even in saying that you’re assuming the reader “isn’t prepared” and there for scaring them with your FEAR to get prepared… but I digress.

Think this section is only for politics? NOPE, it’s for dating, health, wealth, etc. If your ads lean on the side of fear that they’ll never find that perfect someone, or fear that never make the gains they need to in the gym, or fear that they’ll hit retirement broke and alone… then this is “exploiting other sensitive issues.”

Our Solution?

This post got a LOT longer than I originally planned. It wasn’t meant to scare you away from advertising on Facebook either.. however, depending on the niche you’re in… I may have.

Look, Facebook is going through a HUGE growth issue. Their recent actions remind me a lot of Google 5–6 years ago. We’ve decided to let Facebook find their way, but not with our advertising dollars.

We’re still using Facebook as a part of our advertising strategy, but we’re making sure that our business is not 100% reliant on them. Facebook is great for retargeting and for advertising strategic content pieces.

Our suggestion to you… do the same. If you’re going to hang around and deal with the inconsistent and unreliable behaviors of the ad approval team at least have your team use our “10 Commandments of FB Ads” checklist.

 
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