NOTE:This article is 3,039 words. If you want the simple supplementary checklist as a PDF download, get it right here. It's free.
I have found that Facebook Advertising is the crème de la crème of all digital advertising products, producing the greatest Ad to Sales conversion out there (we have generated tens of millions of dollars in revenue using this advertising platform).
However, if you have spend any time advertising on Facebook you have probably seen this:
and experienced (or know someone how has) received an email similar to this…
There isn't a day that goes by without someone crying about how their Facebook account got disabled with no recourse whatsoever. I hear marketers complaining every day about how Facebook “is not fair”, or seems to be just arbitrarily shutting down accounts at will.
As a result of these account terminations, there are a bunch of speculations floating around as to why this is happening. Much worse, are some of the flat out silly responses and “explanations” from people who have actual no real ’field experience’.
It's important to note that most of the ad account shutdowns are happening to DIRECT RESPONSE marketers implementing strategies on a platform (Facebook) that doesn't allow for it. Remember, CONTEXT is more important than CONTENT, and most direct ‘marketing' best practice is POOR ETIQUETTE on a SOCIAL platform.
Also, although Facebook occasionally makes mistakes when shutting down ad accounts, 90% of the time there is a clear, plain, published reason for it; and just because you didn't know about it before your account was shut down doesn't make you NOT guilty (and no, your situation is probably not part of the 10% exception).
In this article, I want to provide the most comprehensive checklist of what you need to know in order to prevent your ad account from being shut down. Please note this is by no means an ‘all-inclusive' list, nor is it a replacement for reading and understanding the official Facebook Ad Policies (https://www.facebook.com/policies/ads/) but it will clear up some fog and equip you with the knowledge and tactics you need to ensure that your account remains in good standing with Facebook.
There are 3 main elements you need to watch out for in order to prevent an ad account termination / ban:
- Your Account Itself
- Your Ad
- The Landing Page for Your Ad
Let's discuss all 3 in more detail…
You can read all the areas here … or if you want the simple supplementary checklist as a PDF download, get it right here FREE.
Business Manager Account
If you're serious about running Facebook advertising, it's in your best interest to basically treat your business like an advertising agency and create a Facebook Business Manager Account. (http://business.facebook.com)
This is more of a “contingency play” (in case an account gets disabled you'll have more to work with) but it also allows you to have slightly more flexibility (and maybe even credibility with Facebook) by operating your ads from a Business Manager Account.
This way you can split off the various main offers of your business into separate accounts. This keeps things clean and SEPARATE in case anything ever goes wrong with one particular ad account. It benefits you to have this flexibility.
Use a different payment source for each ad account within your Business Manager Account. A typical Business Manager Account allows for 10 Ad Accounts within it (if you have a true agency with higher spends you can have up to 1000 like we do).
By having different payment sources connected to each account, it separates the accounts and doesn't allow for too much crossover. If one of your accounts gets disabled with a certain payment source, you will NOT be able to use that payment source again (Facebook is very specific about this) so if all the ad accounts within your Business Manager Account have the same payment source, you can lose ALL of your accounts in one fell swoop.
NOTE: Don't use PayPal as a payment source, as Facebook doesn't like PayPal as much.
Instead, you can set up 'employee' or secondary credit cards with your financial institution so at least all cards are connected to the same bank account on the back end but just have different numbers and names on the front end.
Do not constantly log in to Facebook or your Ads Manager from multiple locations (different IP's).
Every profile and Ad Account is connected to your main IP address. If Facebook sees multiple logins from different IP addresses from different locations, it flags the account as potential fraud and, sooner than later, Facebook will disable your Ad Account.
I had this happen when I was traveling (which I do a lot of)… one week Toronto, another week California, another week Sydney and the next thing I knew, one of my accounts was disabled.
It was a real pain to get back, so be aware.
TIP: You can use an app on your phone to log in while you're away, which may help prevent this issue from happening.
Seasoned accounts and the warm-up process
Older accounts that are ‘seasoned' with a good track record and good, consistent spending with Facebook tend to get priority (and frankly, get away with more stuff) as compared to new accounts that do not have this history.
If you have a newer account it's IMPORTANT to ‘season' your account and warm it up.
By that, I mean you need to watch for several key factors:
Don't scale/spend too much too quickly
I see this rookie mistake all the time. A new Facebook marketer just took a course, wants to implement everything right away, and does one of two things:
- Sets up tons of ads and runs a $100/day spend on EACH ad/adset; OR
- They start slow and then when they find a winner, they increase their daily budget drastically.
Either of these behaviors gives Facebook the impression that you're a spammer, and as a result, they will likely disable your account.
If you have a brand new account, start slow. Keep your spends low and if you need to scale, increase your spends by around 15% a day. Slow and steady wins the race.
Once you have a seasoned account, you'll be able to spend a lot more.
One of our campaigns for a product launch, was prepped and scheduled to spend up to $80,000 a day for 9 days…
Disclaimer: we didn't end up spending that much a day, it ending up being closer to $30,000 a day during the actual launch and some of the traffic was throttled.
Make sure you are 100% compliant and have 100% approved ads in your account before ever thinking about ‘pushing the envelope' and being more aggressive with your ads
It's much easier to get ads approved when Facebook looks into your account and sees a bunch of other approved ads. If, on the contrary, they look at your account and see a bunch of disapproved ads, they are much more likely to disapprove your next one. And too many disapproved ads can lead to an account shutdown.
Clean Up Your Account
Make it a practice to delete any ads that have not been approved. As previously mentioned, having disapproved ads in your account can/does play a role in your new ads getting approved, and having too many disapproved ads can cause an account shutdown.
The take away?
Delete…disapproved…ads. Right away!
(Of course, Facebook keeps their own records, even if you deleted your disapproved ads, but leaving them in your account makes it much easier for the above situation to occur.)
Also, if you do get a disapproved ad, don't try to eek out another one as close to that as possible. “Balance” your standing by getting a series of ads approved (even if you don't end up running them) before coming back to the questionable ad.
Furthermore, on this note, delete old campaigns that are not being run anymore. (You can export them via Power Editor should you need to keep a record of them).
Have you ever gotten a notification that an old ad (that is currently paused and has been for some time) just got disapproved? Even after it ran for a long time before you paused it?
That's because sometimes Facebook will make a policy change and then perform a retroactive review on an account. And if you have old ads (that were at one point compliant but now aren't for whatever reason) they can disapprove ads and even shut down an account.
Account / Page Roles
One of the big things people don't realize is that WHO you have accessing your account also has an effect on the overall status of your account.
When I am running an ad account for a client I typically DON'T give them access to it. The reason is because if they have bad standing with Facebook at all, and they are now given a role within my account, they have now ‘tainted' my account.
A few months ago I was running a JV promotion for one of our clients and the JV partner wanted to upload their Custom Audience to the account so we could run ads to their list. For privacy reasons they wanted to do it themselves (rather than have me do it) so I stupidly gave them temporary access to the account and the moment I did, the account got disabled.
Without even knowing it, this person has had their Facebook ad account banned and they were in Facebook ad ‘jail' for all intents and purposes, so by giving them access to this account it sent off a flag to Facebook saying they were trying to run ads in a new account, and so Facebook shut it down.
So, be VERY careful with whom you provide with a role within your ad account (and Fanpage) and be very restrictive and reserved about it. Sometimes I get access to a clients old ad account and see 15+ people with roles on it (managers, old vendors, etc) and that is just a disaster waiting to happen.
Along that same line, the above considerations apply equally to Fanpages associated with ad accounts. Both in terms of the people who have roles on those pages AND if that Fanpage has ever been associated with a disabled ad account.
Carefully limit the roles assigned for the Fanpage to which the ad is linked. In terms of the ad account itself, be careful not to connect it with a Fanpage that is in bad standing with Facebook.
The takeaway is that Facebook is tracking individual profiles, Fanpages and ad accounts and their associations with one another, so all 3 elements need to remain CLEAN so they don't taint or adversely affect each other's performance.
First and foremost the easiest way to lose your Facebook ad account is by clearly breaching their Terms of Service or deviating from their Policy. If you have not read it, I would block out some time to become intimately familiar with https://www.facebook.com/policies/ads/. Trust me, it is time well-spent.
Just because you don't know a policy, doesn't mean you won't be penalized for your failure to adhere to it.
Some clear “no-no's” that I still see people doing are:
- Make-money type ads (anything about making money is not going to fly with Facebook).
If you're in the business building industry, you'll need another angle to approach your ads with, i.e. – List Building, Funnels, or Hiring.
- Dating type ads. Unless you're an approved dating vendor, dating ads will not work.
- Gambling, sex, or any other ‘grey' area.
Beyond these ‘known' areas, here are another a series of other things you NEED to watch out for with your ads.
Negative Feedback (from Facebook or Users)
More and more Facebook is banning unseasoned Facebook accounts that have ads with Negative Feedback.
Ever since Facebook introduced Relevance Scores and the user's ability to ‘close ads' they are taking users’ feedback very seriously.
While relevance scores can affect overall impressions, Negative Feedback can cause account shutdowns at any time (even if you have HIGH relevance scores and Medium Positive Feedback).
This is why it is super important to constantly watch and monitor your ads.
Just because something starts with HIGH Positive Feedback and LOW Negative Feedback, it doesn't mean it'll stay that way. You'll want to be proactive and as soon as you see “HIGH Negative Feedback”, make some changes or pause the ad.
So what typically causes high negative feedback?
Although the list can be endless, here are some key things Facebook or its users might find that may create a negative experience (and remember, this is ALL ABOUT USER EXPERIENCE. Facebook’s overarching goal is time on platform. And they accomplish that by providing the best user experience possible.).
Your ad needs to be clear about your intentions
If your lander is going to ask for an opt-in, the ad should say so right up front.
There should be no surprises for the user once they click on your ad as to what they will be experiencing next.
NO link bait, NO fear mongering or overly hyped angles in an attempt to manipulate users
The days of the Buzzworthy headlines are coming to an end. Baiting someone with unfinished sentences, scaring them into action or promising something unrealistic is NOT going to work AND will get you banned.
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.
You will make $1,784,373.65 if you follow this one simple email hack!
Really? Enough said.
TIP: Position results as a CASE STUDY with a real example rather than a claim.
No unrelated / misleading images
The days of using pretty girls in bathing suits for your FB Retargeting Video are over. The images need to be congruent with the content on the landing page, as well as what the ad is actually offering.
No ‘illegal' ad components
- No personal characteristics of the user, i.e. – “Hey Sam! It's your birthday today and I'd love to give you…”
- No ‘ideal' body type (no before and after photos or suggesting that someone's body type is not ideal)
- No sexually suggestive ads (nothing provocative or using sex to sell).
- 20% Text Rule (make sure that no more than 20% of your ad contains text of any kind, including your image)
Your intentions must be clear on your landing page
The user needs to know exactly what they are going to get if they opt-in to your offer. Are they getting a PDF download, or watching a video? Will they be called or emailed further information? Your intentions must be clear as to exactly what the user should expect by taking the requested action.
You must display reputable business elements on EVERY landing page
No trapping mechanisms
Landing pages can NOT have any pop-ups, pop-overs, pop-unders, or auto-playing video or audio, and should give people more than one option to click on.
Landing pages must clearly and accurately reflect the product or service being promoted in your ad and must be directly related to the ad headline and description. Not only will this increase your conversion/action rates (which will get you better results); the congruency will also allow for a more user-friendly experience.
We now like to add a disclaimer-type note in the footer of every landing page that states that the page is not affiliated with Facebook at all. This seems to help. (note image above)
To a Squeeze Page or To Content? – The Great Debate
There has been great debate as to whether or not ‘squeeze pages' remain a viable landing page to drive traffic to, versus whether traffic should instead be driven to content and then retargeted with WCA pixels (like what is happening right here).
There was a common claim circulating that squeeze pages were causing ad account shut downs. The truth is that sending people to a content page vs. a squeeze page has very little to do with getting your ad account shut down. It has everything to do with user experience. I'm the guy behind some of the biggest names in the ‘expert' space and we have run traffic to both ‘blogs/content pages' and direct to squeeze pages.
What it comes down to is relevance and user experience. With the right targeting and the right messaging you can run direct to an opt-in page (that adheres to all of the practices I’ve recommended above).
If your targeting, copy, and images are ‘off', you'll find users complaining about your ads, which in turn will cause all sorts of issues in your account.
The model behind blog/content-first advertising is simply to increase your authority, value and good-will with your market and to ensure that the Facebook user experience remains positive all the way through. (It also get's great results).
Trust and User Experience are Priority One for Facebook and its community, and threats (perceived or actual) to either of these are taken very seriously. Often, this begins when a user X's out your ad or requests to hide it. This sends a signal to Facebook to investigate your account. Account terminations are usually the result of something you are doing that is breaking the trust relationship and in their eyes, that's not a breach of a specific rule, but behavior contrary to the values of Facebook and its user community. In other words, it can be interpreted as unethical behavior within the context of the platform.
So don't see Facebook marketing (or any marketing for that matter) as ‘rules to follow' as much as understanding user psychology and ensuring everything is set up for ‘success' by ensuring user trust and adding value to the overall user experience.
That was a lot of information wasn't it?
This article is 3,039 words (give or take a few). If you want the simple supplementary checklist as a PDF download, that you can print out and keep beside your computer every time you're running ads, you can get it right here for FREE.
This is one of the most comprehensive articles I have written on this topic and hopefully it will help a bunch of people out and prevent further heart-ache.
If you found this helpful or know someone who needs to read it, here’s what I’d like you to do…
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