Non-Compliant Ads. They’re every Facebook Advertiser’s worst nightmare. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s likely you’ve heard at least one business owner grumbling about their struggles with Facebook’s compliance algorithm.
Here’s a quick summary in case you’re unaware of how Facebook ad compliance works:
The average user spends 38 minutes per day on Facebook. That number is important. Why?
Because Facebook generates revenue by selling your time and attention to advertisers. If user numbers drop or if people spend less time on the platform, Facebook is no longer an attractive place for advertisers to spend their marketing dollars.
It’s why Facebook cannot afford to let rogue advertisers upset its user base. It’s also why Facebook is so militant about approving or rejecting ad copy and images.
Now, I’m no image expert so I can’t speak to image compliance. But after spending many hours writing hundreds of ad copy variations for multi-million dollar businesses I can share plenty of wisdom around compliance as it relates to Facebook ad copy.
At the agency where I work, we create tons of Facebook ads across an enormous range of markets, from compliance-friendly clothing brands, to compliance disaster niches like supplements and biz op. You name it, we’ve had it rejected.
But through our rejected ads we’ve been able to master the art of writing compliant ad copy in some of the most notorious, red flag-trigger markets. Which is why I want to share TWO of the most common compliance traps and explain how to avoid them…even in difficult niches.
Why “You” are the No.1 reason Facebook Ad copy gets rejected
Facebook does not allow advertisers to write copy that “makes assertions about a prospect’s personal attributes”. But what is a personal attribute? It’s any kind of characteristic that you might use to pigeonhole people into groups like…
Race, ethnicity, religion, age, financial status, sexual orientation, medical condition, financial status etc.
So, although you can TARGET prospects based on those characteristics, you mustn’t imply you KNOW these characteristics about your prospect in your copy. I know, it’s crazy but that’s just how it is! It’s something to do with Facebook not wanting it to look like it knows too much about its users (even though everyone knows that Facebook knows everything).
It means you can’t say, “Meet other seniors”. Why? Because that would suggest you know the reader is a senior.
While you can say, “Meet seniors.” This is compliant because there’s no explicit reference to the reader also being a senior. In other words, you’re not directly saying that the reader is a senior, even though they’re your target audience.
Now in Direct Response copy this presents us with a problem. How can you create resonance and emotional connection without explicitly calling out the prospect based on their personal characteristics?
Let’s look at this Biz Op Ad:
This ad poses a number of challenges:
- We can’t directly assert that our reader is a woman, or that they’re a woman who is about to come into some money
- We can’t assert that our reader is looking for a new career
- We can’t assert that our reader is looking for a way to invest their cash
So how do we write compliant ad copy without making assertions about personal attributes?
- Use first person pronouns (I or We) or third person pronouns (He, She, They) – When you make an assertion on Facebook about the kind of person your ad is about, you cannot use the second person (you). Unfortunately, it can make your copy sound a little clunky but it’s the only way to write copy that connects to any kind of personal characteristic or emotion. Yes, your copy loses some of its power but it’s the only way around the compliance algorithm. Take comfort in the fact that everyone is in the same boat.
- Only use second person pronouns (you) as part of a question or “if…then” statement. Here’s the reason you can get away with writing in the second person this way – when you ask a question, you’re not making an assertion. You might be implying that a characteristic is true, but you’re not asserting it to be the truth.
Similarly, with an “if…then” statement, you’re implying that your prospect shares a particular characteristic without asserting that it’s true.
E.g. Are you ready to invest in your financial future?
- Name your ideal prospect. Pay attention to the headline in this ad. It says, “WANTED: Women ready for financial freedom”. It’s clear who the ad is for, so if you are a woman who’s ready for financial freedom, you’re likely to pay attention.
What it doesn’t say is “You are a woman who wants financial freedom.” That would be rejected as it makes an assertion about the reader’s gender and aspirational identity.
Got a miracle product? Why weaker promises win on Facebook
The second most common compliance problem causes no end of problems in the health and supplement niches. That’s because Facebook won’t allow advertisers to “contain deceptive, false or misleading claims, such as those relating to effectiveness of a product or service, including mis-leading claims that set unrealistic expectations.”
This policy effectively bans advertisers as positioning health products as a ‘cure’ for any ailment or as a weight loss program that can help dieters shed a specific amount of weight in a defined time period.
Plus, you can’t make earnings claims in biz op ads like “this course will make you a million dollars in under 3 months.”
Let’s take a look at a tricky supplement ad for a product that helps lower blood pressure:
When writing an ad for this type of product, these are the biggest problems we face:
- We cannot claim to cure hypertension or lower blood pressure, even if that’s the whole point of the product. (It’s very frustrating!)
- We must not position this as an alternative to prescription medicine
Now, obviously both of the above are the exact message we want to get across in our ads. It’s why supplement ads are notoriously difficult to get past the algorithm.
Here are some ways to write compliant health copy that doesn’t make unsubstantiated claims:
- Avoid mentioning specific medical conditions. In the case of our supplement ad, we avoided referring to hypertension as this is the kind of language used by medical professionals to diagnose a specific illness. We can use language like “blood pressure problems” as this isn’t specific to a particular disease.
- Refer to improved health vs curing a specific condition. You’ll notice in this blood pressure ad, we used terms like “boost blood pressure health” vs “lowers blood pressure.” Blood pressure health is much broader and a looser promise than ‘lowering blood pressure’ which can be clearly measured.
- Tone down your promise. As much as we might like to, Facebook won’t allow us to make assertions about the effectiveness of our products. You can soften your claim by adding words like ‘can’ or ‘helps’
E.g. It helps relax strained blood vessels. It means blood can flow more freely around the body
Old school direct response advertisers would probably turn in their graves if they saw the way Facebook advertisers write their ad copy. Unfortunately, many of the techniques direct response rely on to generate sales are not allowed on Facebook. It’s why Facebook ad copy can sometimes sound a little clunky and awkward.
Here’s a reminder of the main points you should remember about Facebook ad compliance:
- Where possible, avoid writing in the second person
- If you do write in the 2nd person, do not use the word “you” when making an assertion. Use it in questions or if…then statements.
- Do not make bold, unsubstantiated claims about weight loss, money, cures
- Tone down your promise using words like ‘can’ and ‘helps’
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