Facebook Ad Disapproved? – Here’s the Definitive Guide to Facebook Ad Approvals

Facebook Ad FAQs Facebook Ad not approved Leadpages

Unlike other social media advertising platforms, Facebook requires advertisers to submit each ad for review and must be approved before it can be published and released into the wild. In fact, if you’ve ever published a Facebook ad, you’re already familiar with the process – and you may have bumped into a disapproval or two (…oh, the shame). 

Which brings us to one of the most common questions we hear from digital marketers: 

What should I do if my Facebook ad was not approved?

Facebook ad disapprovals are actually quite common and are nothing to take personally. Still, they can be disappointing, frustrating, and can easily derail your campaign timeline. Knowing the ins and outs of the Facebook ad review (and approval) process is the best way to stay on Facebook’s friendly side and to fast track your ads for quick publishing.

In this article, you’ll learn the ins and outs of the Facebook ad review process, how it works, common causes for ads to be disapproved, how to handle a Facebook ad appeal, and best practices for how your business can avoid ad (heartbreak &) rejection.

Did you know? 
An estimated 93% of professional marketers use Facebook advertising on a regular basis, which translates to about 3 million businesses that use Facebook to market their products and services (
2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report). It’s no surprise then that the platform boasts upwards of 2 billion daily users and generates significant dinero from advertising revenue (we’re talking about upwards of $7.6 billion in the first quarter of 2017).

If you want a piece of the action – getting your ad approved for publication should be one of your top priorities.

(So, it’s a great idea you’re here! This guide contains everything you need to get through the process like a champion).

Our Facebook Ad Builder FAQ series continues!
Missed part 1? Check out our A to your Q:
What are the most effective lead magnets for Facebook ads?

 

Jump to what you want to know:

What is the Facebook ad approval process? How does it work?
How long does Facebook ad review take?
How can I speed up the “pending review” period?
What factors influence my ad approval time?
My Facebook ad was disapproved. What does that mean?
> What should I do when my Facebook ad is disapproved?
> Why does my Facebook ad get approved then disapproved?
> What are the most common reasons that Facebook ads are disapproved?
> What about the 20% text image rule?
> What can I do to improve my chances of having my Facebook ad approved?

BONUS TIP: Don’t Get Delayed!

Launching a big campaign? If you’re concerned your Facebook ad won’t be approved on time, try scheduling your post in advance. Set a future start and end date that allows plenty of time for ad approvals to run their course. We recommend at least 2 business days ahead of launch, preferably avoiding Friday and Saturday dates.

 

Face the truth: on Facebook, you’re #2.

Facebook advertisers would be wise to keep in mind one inconvenient truth: Facebook favors users over advertisers.

Sounds cold. But it’s true. Ensuring, maintaining, and protecting a high-quality user experience is the #1 priority of team Facebook – everything (and everyone) else is secondary.

Advertisers will come and go, but when users leave – it’s lights out, Sparky. That’s why Facebook’s Advertising Policies exist and the Facebook ad review process is in place to ensure that advertisers play by the rules (and thus protect the coolness of the Facebook community).



 

What is the Facebook ad approval process? How does it work?

The Facebook ad review/approval process refers to the reviews & approvals that every single ad must obtain in order to be published for the world to see. No one is exempt from this – not even the big boy brands.

Why does the ad review process matter to you?

Thanks to Facebook’s powerful algorithm, “ads optimize as they run,” says Juan Salazar, a Facebook advertising consultant who works with Leadpages, “and they optimize over time. Essentially, anything that breaks that learning cycle is problematic – such as an ad being disapproved. When ads are paused – you stop spending, your history stops collecting, and your campaign starts underperforming.” That’s why the ad approval process matters to you.

Disapproved ads can also easily derail any A/B creative testing that you’re running. Imagine you launch an ad set for a new lead magnet campaign, which contains 5 identical ads, each with a new headline. “If one of the ad versions gets disapproved right out of the gate and the rest go live, your test is compromised,” says Juan. “Or, worst case scenario: all your ads are disapproved and you’re not testing anything at all.”

Facebook ad not approved

Ad Approvers: A Mix of Man + Machine


Most marketers wonder: how do Facebook ads get approved?

Because an estimated 3 million businesses advertise on Facebook, it’d be impossible to manually audit and oversee each and every ad as it comes down the shoot. (Can you imagine what that bay of cubicles would look like?)

While Facebook doesn’t explicitly reveal the mechanics and manpower behind how their ad review process works, most experts agree that it’s managed by a mix of automated algorithms and manual human approvers.

facebook ad not approved leadpages

Most likely, the first phase of approvals is managed by automated algorithms (meaning, your ads are scanned by a computer program that determines whether to approve/ or reject them).

Based on Juan’s experience managing Facebook ads across multiple accounts, he has a pretty strong sense of what the process looks like behind the curtain: “Once you submit it, within 2-3 hours there will be an automated crawling of your text and images that will check for very basic things: image text ratio (what used to be the 20% rule), excessive or superlative language, inappropriate/ prohibited content (including guns, alcohol, drugs – and other content that is explicitly banned).”

This automated crawl is machine-driven and – quite frankly – imperfect. “Some things will initially pass through it while others will get flagged for disapproval,” Juan says.  


 

How long does Facebook ad review take?


Most ads are typically reviewed within 24 hours, although some cases may face additional delays (
according to folks @ Facebook).

The ad review team (algorithm + human gatekeepers) will use this time to compare your ad to the Facebook Advertising Policies and ensure you’re in 100% compliance with the letter of the law.

Notice some inconsistency in ad review speeds?

So do we. It’s because not all ads take the same path through Facebook review:

  • Some ads can be approved in a matter of minutes
  • Some ads are approved and then rejected hours later
    (giving the impression that ads were approved by the algorithm and then flagged by a human manually reviewing the ad after the fact)
  • Some ads take the whole 24 hours (or more) to be approved
    (likely skipping the automated queue and heading straight for human oversight)

If you’re looking for unshakeable consistency, you’re not going to find it here.

The best way to protect against ad rejection (and resulting delays) is to learn the policies and follow the rules.  And while the policies are quite long, it is not as difficult as you may think. Why? Because given the nature of your business and industry, you’ll likely find that you’re bumping up against only a handful of these restrictions. Identify those frequent sticking points early on and you’ll save yourself loads of time.


 

How can I speed up the “pending review” period?


Short answer: you can’t.

It’s not the norm, but still, it’s not altogether uncommon for marketers to find that their Facebook ad is pending review for upwards of 15-20 hours.

“Unfortunately there’s not a way to expedite the review process,” says Juan, “other than if you’re spending enough money and you have a direct Facebook rep working with your business account – which would trigger a quicker turnaround. Most small/ medium sized advertisers without a dedicated representative just have to wait. Approximately 70-80% of advertisers get a response within 2-3 hours, but there are some cases that take almost the full 24 hours.”


 

What factors influence my ad approval time?


This is a topic of much speculation and very little solid evidence.

Some Facebook advertisers suggest that a number of factors may contribute to fast-tracking ads for review, such as:

  • Facebook ad account history – For example, the longer you’ve been advertising on Facebook, the more dinero you’ve spent, the fewer ads you’ve had rejected, and the more likely your ads are to get through to the promised land.
  • Keyword analysis – A crawler’s initial semantic analysis of your ad could flag your ad and trigger greater (slower) review.
  • Domain analysis – If you’re sending traffic to a never-before-used domain, that could trigger greater (slower) review.
  • Image analysis – Facebook may be able to recognize red flags in images (such as copyrighted logos, nudity…) and that could trigger greater (slower) review.

Despite the swirling speculation, Juan hasn’t experienced any massive differences in approval process times from one account to another.  

“I can’t imagine it hurts to publish from an account that has a long history of approved ads, that’s in good standing, that doesn’t have a ton of denied credit card payments, etc. But I don’t know that there’s a direct link between those factors and approval times,” he says.


 

My Facebook ad was disapproved – what does that mean?


According to Juan, most ads pass through an initial algorithmic screening (within the first 2-3 hours) and of those ads, 60-70% will pass through a secondary human review (within the first 48 hours). During either of those evaluations, ads may be disapproved: blocked from publishing and sent back to the advertiser for adjustments or appeal.  

If your ad is disapproved, you’ll receive an alert by email or notification and you’ll also see a notice of disapproval appear within your Facebook Ad Manager interface.

Facebook Ad Not Approved Leadpages

These notifications will often contain a brief description of the charges against you (aka. Offending text, image, or both) and a link to a corresponding section of the Facebook Ad Policies so you can dig a little deeper.  

Facebook Ad Not Approved After Closer Review Leadpages

“My biggest advice to Facebook advertisers is not to freak out when things get disapproved. It happens a lot. It’s a very finicky thing and because Facebook has grown so big so quickly, their rules are vague so that they can apply them any which way they want. They’re not known for consistency and you may have to push back on them during your appeal and make your case for why you’re not in violation.”

Human reviewers are subjective and having that in mind at the outset should stem your frustration.


 

What should I do when my Facebook ad is disapproved?


Expect Delays


Post-disapproval, you may have to adjust your timeline (and expectations). Appeals can be won quite quickly, but you likely had to wait 24 hours to get the first rejection and the second review can take another 24 hours.

At this point, it’s up to you how to handle the status of your campaign – pause it while you appeal or let it run. If your appeal is successful and your campaign is active, your ad will start delivering.

Facebook Ad Not Approved Leadpages List of Disapproved Facebook Ads

Tweak & Try Again

Usually, the best course of action is to take a second pass at your ad and edit it so that it complies Facebook’s advertising policies. Why? Because unlike the popular dating breakup script – it’s not them, it’s you.

If your Facebook ad has been disapproved, you’ve likely received a notification/ email with some fairly vague reasons as to why. That’s great, in theory, but in practice, it can be difficult to identify exactly which part of your ad caused the problem.

Facebook Ad Not Approved Notification

Facebook Ad Not Approved Notification 2

“Look at the reasons they give you in the disapproval notice. It will say why the ad is being disapproved. Then, try to get in the head of the viewer and try to uncover why would this matter? Is this really egregious? After that,  click on the link that takes you directly to the section of the Facebook advertising rules that you’re allegedly breaking and thoroughly read the rules to understand the motivation behind why Facebook doesn’t want something like this to be published in an ad.”

At that point, if you determine, “whoopsi, I did a bad thing…” simply go back and correct your error.

Here’s a good place to start:

      • Tweak your targeting (serving an ad to an inappropriate or underage audience is a no no)
      • Run multiple versions of the same ad
      • Run the text through Grammarly
      • Use Facebook’s own Image Text Check to determine how much text is in your image
      • Boost a post vs. run a Facebook ad
        Depending on the nature of your business (ex. Tobacco products) that are banned from Facebook ads, you could still post stories/ articles that lead to landing pages (as long as they aren’t too “sales” oriented)

“Keep in mind,” Juan says, “when your ad is reviewed by a human, he or she is looking for more nuanced violations. If you’re rejected by a human reviewer, your chances of winning on appeal are pretty slim: perhaps 20-30%. Most likely, something in your ad is truly in violation of Facebook’s Ad Policies and you need to make changes.”

Tweak the copy, swap out the image, adjust the targeting – whatever it takes to get your ad back on the straight and narrow.

Can’t find fault with your ad? – It’s time to appeal.

The Facebook Ad Appeal process


After reading the rules more thoroughly and finding no fault in the ad itself, Juan recommends “starting to construct an argument as to why this is not truly egregious or why it’s not in violation of the rule.”

In order to present your case and (hopefully) change the status of your ad, you’ll need to appeal a disapproved ad by filling out Facebook’s appeal form. By clicking the appeal button (shown in your Ad Manager interface), you’ll be able to justify why your ad should be accepted and doing so will prompt a human review.

facebook ad not approved facebook ad appeal leadpages

Write a Convincing Facebook Ad Appeal


If your ad is disapproved within the first 2-3 hours, you can assume it was rejected by the algorithm outright. In that case, Juan says “definitely appeal and you probably don’t have to write up a massive thesis-style explanation. You usually don’t have to be too detailed because the appeal will trigger a human review” and if you’re really innocent, you’re more likely to be let off.

Writing a convincing Facebook ad appeal should include trying to:

    • Understand why it was disapproved
    • Understand the rule that your disapproval is referencing. Review the policy and got through each line item to have a thorough understanding
    • Make an argument as to why your ad should be re-reviewing and then approved

Facebook Ad Appeal Sample Script


The heart of your Facebook ad approval is simple: it’s an ‘I’m right and you’re wrong, and let me tell you why’ statement… followed by an implicit ‘pretty please let me advertise on your site.’

That being said, here are a couple sample scripts to get you started:

  • “This ad does not include an improper …., it simply …. and we follow every relevant guideline including …..”
  • “Your rule states _____ and per that wording I’m actually doing this____ which is not in violation of the advertising policies. Please review and provide approval as soon as possible.”

Facebook ad not approved Facebook ad appeal script leadpages

Appealing multiple Facebook ads in a single cycle?

Write out one appeal message, then copy & paste it across the board.

Lost a Facebook ad appeal process?

“If you lose the appeal the appeal process, it means something is up with the ad…” Juan says. 

Here’s what you can do:

  • Significantly change the ad art & copy (one or both)
  • Duplicate the ad and submit it again
    You cannot submit multiple approvals on the same ad. So, by duplicating the ad and resubmitting, you’re crossing your fingers that you get a new human reviewer who lets you through.
  • Decide what to do with your campaign
    A campaign may go live even though one or more ads in the ad set is disapproved.

“Unless you’re a spammy advertiser or nefarious actor you’re most likely breaking a rule in a very innocent way,” Juan says. “You should first try to understand A) why it was disapproved to begin with and B) why your ad might be beneficial or of interest to the end user.”


 

Why does my Facebook ad get approved than disapproved?


According to Juan, most ads pass through an initial algorithmic screening (within the first 2-3 hours) and of those ads, 60-70% will pass through a secondary human review (within the first 48 hours). During either of those evaluations, ads may be disapproved: blocked from publishing and sent back to the advertiser for adjustments or appeal.  

For this reason, it’s possible that your Facebook ad is initially approved and then disapproved shortly after.


 

What are the most common reasons that Facebook ads are disapproved?


According to Facebook (
here), the most common reasons that Facebook ads are disapproved are:

  1. Featuring too much text in an image
    They state: “Ads you want to show in News Feed may not include images with text that covers more than 20% of the image’s area.”
    Here’s an amazing resource on use of text on Facebook ad images
  2. Age-restricted material (read on)
  3. Mentioning ‘Facebook’ or using Facebook brand assets

What Facebook ad content is prohibited by Facebook?


Basically, Facebook divides delinquent content into two categories: 
prohibited content (29 items) and restricted content (10 items).

If you’re dealing with prohibited content – you’re likely wasting your time, as the Facebook ad gatekeepers will simply have your ad disapproved outright. However, if you’re monkeying with ‘restricted content’ – play by the rules and you’ll likely be successful!

HELLO disclaimer: This guide is designed as a high-level summary to help you navigate the Facebook ad review process. Best to go to the source (Facebook Advertising Policies) if you’ve got more detailed concerns.

Prohibited content for Facebook ads


Facebook has a long, long list of prohibited content that basically consists of the illegal or questionable material that wouldn’t be approved for more traditional advertising channels. Here is our summary:

Restricted content for Facebook ads

Facebook ad’s restricted content generally takes into account applicable local laws (including age and country targeting criteria). Therefore, your campaigns and content may need to be adjusted to meet the requirements of each country/ geography.

Here is our summary of restricted content for Facebook ads:



 

What about the 20% text image rule?


Once upon a time, Facebook required that ad images contain no more than 20% text. Those days are over – kind of.

‘The 20% rule is not dead,” says Juan, “but the best practices are the same. Your image won’t be denied, but you will face consequences that you’ll want to avoid. Now, Facebook allows you to use more text within an image – but you’ll be penalized during the ad auction. That basically means that you’ll face restricted reach (fewer people will actually see your ad) and you’ll pay more for better placements (higher $$).”

Instead of rejecting 20%+ ads outright, Facebook now offers a 4-tiered rating system: OK, Low, Medium, High (as determined by the Facebook Text Overlay Tool). You should aim for an ‘OK’ rating. Anything else could result in penalizations and reduced reach.

Facebook Ad Not Approved Facebook Ad Image Ratings

Wondering how you rate? Use the Facebook Text Overlay Tool before submitted any image with text.

Facebook Ad Not Approved Image Text Check

How do you use the Facebook Text Overlay Tool?


It’s simple. Just upload an image, highlight all the boxes that contain text, and if you end up with more than 5 highlighted boxes, your rank will be adjusted accordingly.

Facebook Ad Not Approved Facebook Ad Image Frequently Asked Questions

What constitutes text on images?

Pretty much, any text on an image.

That includes logos and slogans, text overlays (such as watermarks), and edited images that include text on top of a product as a ‘creative workaround.’

Juan recommends that Facebook advertisers “make the best use of the text that surrounds the ad’s image” to say what they need to say. Some Facebook ad consultants even encourage advertisers to embrace video ads, as videos tend to be more permissive and make it harder for the Facebook crawlers to detect text overlays. (A word of caution here: attempts to outsmart Facebook…they usually backfire).


 

What can I do to improve my chances of having my Facebook ad approved?


Now that you’re a kung-fu master at Facebook ad approvals, we’d like to encourage you to avoid using your combat skills altogether and simply learn to play by the rules. Think of it like practicing Facebook ad nonviolence… and we promise you can still flex your creative muscles, capture loads of leads, and be successful with Facebook advertising.

Here are our key takeaways:

  1. Think like Switzerland: aim for neutrality
    If you’re advertising a prohibited or restricted topic or have an “edge” campaign message that you suspect could warrant a second review, it’s best to clean up your act.
    Facebook ad disapproved approval facebook ad example
  2. Act like a hunter: Get your targeting cleaned up
    Ads targeted to the wrong people (ex. an alcohol-related ad targeted to minors, or to countries where such advertising is prohibited) will quickly get disapproved. Pay close attention to your targeting so you don’t include underage groups or audiences that Facebook may flag as inappropriate.
    Facebook ad disapproved approval facebook ad example
  3. Be like saran wrap: clear & transparent.
    Facebook fights back against fraud and false statements. Make the same offer in your ad clearly visible on your landing page. Include your Terms of Service and Privacy Policy on all landing pages. Don’t include images that mimic site features (such as a fake video play button). Don’t make unreasonable claims and keep all images consistent with the product/ service. This is a frequent offender, so if you’re facing a ‘false claims’ disapproval, try adding a disclaimer to your ad & landing page (results may vary).
    Facebook ad disapproved approval facebook ad example
  4. Write like a pro: Copy edit.
    Yup, poor grammar is considered ‘prohibited content’ by Facebook. Avoid replacing profanity with special symbol (who the h*#& would do such a f*&#**%& thing, anyway?)
    Facebook ad disapproved approval facebook ad example
  5. Remember George Orwell: Don’t be Big Brother
    Privacy is a big concern for Facebook users. So, while you want to leverage the platforms powerful targeting algorithm, you don’t want to be a creep about it. Highly target your ad, but don’t refer directly to the personal attributes of that targeted set of people.“I advise clients to be very mindful of how they write their copy – particularly those businesses that play in the B2C space. Brands want to be very authentic with a very authentic brand voice, but the truth is that it’s a double-edged sword: you don’t want to go too authentic where the informal tone feels inappropriate or your too-targeted and calling out a personal attribute. The trick is to say something direct without being too direct, you kind of have to get creative.”Facebook doesn’t want to spook their audience with how crazy detailed their targeting can be. If you’re writing ‘Like YOU!’ in your ads, you’re freaking people out.
    Facebook ad disapproved approval facebook ad example
  6. An image is worth…  no words at all
    Let your image do the talking for you – to the biggest extent that you’re able. Don’t put your ad at risk by overlaying paragraphs of text onto your image. Your audience and the Facebook ad elves will not be amused.
    Facebook ad disapproved approval facebook ad example
  7. Follow the community standards
    Ads commonly hit the reject pile because they don’t adhere to the platform’s policies for ensuring safety, security, and protecting intellectual property and personal information of all its users. No bullying or harassment. No nudity. No hate speech. No violence. No graphic content.Heads up: Instagram and Facebook have different community standards. It’s worth it to learn them both.

 

In Conclusion…

Facebook advertising guidelines can seem freakishly overwhelming, but there are probably only a handful of regulations you’ll constantly run into, depending on the nature of your business. (And, if you’re an agency – you’ll probably run into all of them).

As his final parting word, Juan encourages small business Facebook advertisers to “take on a hacker-ish attitude and tackle ad approvals/ disapprovals from multiple angles. Test and explore different avenues and once you gather enough evidence you’ll start to understand what ad/ copy skips by the rules and what doesn’t.”

 

Special thanks to our featured guest:

Juan Salazar is a digital advertising consultant at 10ZING Digital. His focus is on enabling high-growth startups to leverage social platforms, primarily Facebook and Instagram, as a source of branding and user acquisition.