Rules and Restrictions of Facebook Ads

The Down Side of Facebook Ads

Like any system, Facebook Ads has its own drawbacks: Some of them the same drawbacks you’ll find in any online advertising system, and some unique to Facebook. Let’s take a detour and make sure our eyes are opened wide to the dangers.

While it’s true that as a form of pay-per-click (PPC), a Facebook Ad can reach a more tightly-focused demographic and cost considerably less – partly because mainstream marketers haven’t yet discovered the potential waiting to be mined – it is nevertheless possible to rack up costs pretty quickly! One way to combat this: Have a daily budget, and set limits.

There are also rules and restrictions you need to keep in mind, so before deciding to create your Facebook Ad, make sure you thoroughly read the guidelines.

These guidelines are broken down into sections:

  • Accounts

  • Landing pages/Destination URLs

  • Facebook References

  • Ad copy and Image Content

  • Prohibited content (a large section!)

  • Data and Privacy

  • Targeting

  • Prices, Discounts and Free Offers

  • Subscription Services

  • Ads for Alcoholic Beverages

  • Copyrights and Trademarks

  • Spam

  • Incentives

  • Downloads

This page also contains a list of exclusions and formatting rules you need to observe, if you’re using the Facebook Platform.

There are ways to legally and ethically work your way around some of the restrictions; others are absolute.

For example, one of the general restrictions is: “No contests or sweepstakes”, but Zynga got around this by simply asking Facebook’s permission, and following the Promotion Guidelines for permitted contests.

There are other rules in which you simply have to present your case to Facebook:

  1. No multiple Facebook accounts for advertising purposes unless given permission by Facebook

  2. Advertisers can’t automate account or ad creation unless given permission by Facebook

And some that are absolute: For example…

  1. Ads that contain a URL or domain in the body must link to that same URL or domain.

  2. Ads must send users to the same landing page when the ad is clicked.

Do remember that if something is not self-evident, or your particular set of requirements goes outside the norm, you can always talk to the sales team in person, to see if there’s a way you can both make what you want to do work. (After all – they want your money!)

9 Facebook Ad Mistakes

There are definitely ways to reduce the effectiveness of your Ad on Facebook, and here we will take a look at 9 of the most common…

  1. Assuming that all Ads are created equal. Facebook selects Ads to repeat based on the best performers – the ones that generate the most click-throughs or impressions. That’s why it’s important to support your Ads with interactivity-promoting tactics such as having a Facebook Fan page, and making sure you really do target the right people.

  2. Not tweaking your Ad as your campaign progresses. Too many people create an Ad – and leave it. Even the best, most professionally optimized Ads go through a natural cycle of peaking and declining activity, so make sure you monitor this, and adjust your ads as needed. (Facebook is also more likely to keep displaying your Ad, if it sees you are keeping it current.)

  3. Not putting your Ad in the best Facebook category. To figure out the right one, you need to think like your viewer: How would she categorize your product? You may think of your custom-embroidered hemp pillows as “home décor accessories”… but your ideal customer might be looking for “green products”.

  4. Picking too broad a category. This is a mistake usually born of inexperience. No, it’s not better to reach 1,000,000 readers in the hope that a handful might actually be interested in your Ad subject: It’s better to narrow your focus to an exact, small target group – one that will give you comparatively higher conversions (sales).

  5. Not reading all the guidelines and restrictions. That one should be obvious, but still trips potential Advertisers up all the time. The best way not to “miss” something is not to rush through the process. Read the guidelines and restrictions first – do your homework!

  6. Rushing into Ad creation. See # 4… and make sure you’ve thought of all the ways you can maximize your Ad dollars. Have a plan, don’t just fire your canons off in all directions. Think through your campaign, and plan for the long term (and for modifications) too.

  7. Putting all your eggs in one basket. Especially if it’s the first time you’ve advertised on Facebook, it’s best to start small. Don’t commit your entire Advertising budget to it (unless your budget is miniscule – a tiny budget being another “mistake”, but sometimes, one that’s unavoidable for new marketers.)

  8. Not realizing you need to link your Ad to page, event or group on Facebook. The purpose of the Ads, as far as Facebook is concerned – publicizing and promoting Facebook. So even if it’s your own website you want to promote, your Ad should to direct people to your Facebook page, event or group for your website.

  9. Not carefully checking formatting and spelling. Make no mistake – you can easily get your Ad disapproved by using poor grammar, unprofessional formatting or having spelling mistakes.

The Privacy Issue

We’ve already skirted around this by discussing the Beacon fiasco. Facebook has been criticized heavily for privacy infractions; not all of which are now corrected.1


The truth is, privacy is something you can’t take for granted in
any area of the internet, these days. Nor can you be responsible for people who don’t take the time to check privacy settings on public sites, or take the time to institute any parameters they wish to set.

As long as you too create your Facebook groups, events, pages and ads in good faith, taking care to follow ethical and sensible practices (and pick your categories and target viewers carefully, after proper research) yours won’t be one of the business to suffer from any lawsuits.

Speak to just about anyone you know (especially young women under 39) and you’ll most likely find that Facebook’s popularity seems to outweigh its drawbacks. This makes Facebook an important venue that should not be ignored, when planning your Advertising campaigns.

1 You can read a comprehensive summary of Facebook’s past privacy problems at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Facebook


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