dk or Purpose Inc Appeared In:

June 2 2009

facebook ad approval questions answered

Written by / Posted in facebook / 13 Comments

One of the perks of being around the facebook, is that I have gotten to know their mystery person in charge of ad approval. This person has to juggle the needs of the advertisers to get their ads on the network while protecting the experience of the users, which is their highest priority. Of course in the background is the fact that if ads are not approved, then income does not come in to facebook. In an emerging platform like facebook, there is still massive growth and understanding taking place in this area on a weekly basis. Considering the fact that facebook ads are still in their early growing years, the job this person does is amazing! Remember for the most part at this time, the ads are being reviewed by a human being.

Just for the record I intentionally never ask for special favors on my ads. I just send them in and watch them get approved or disproved. In fact on one of my accounts I recently got a little e-mail explaining how a few of my ads were bending the envelope a little too far and were not being approved. Oops! They are really great people, and if you do mess up, you simply get an e-mail explaining what part of the T.O.S. you violated.

As users, the more your ads are quality and get approved the easier you make it for them, and believe me they apreciate it!

The ad approval process is not hard science yet on either side, and requires understanding while the process evolves. Facebook is very, very open to user input on what is working and not working, both for advertisers and for users.

Feel free to comment here with any questions or feedback for the ad approval team, or contact me if you are running into any big issues with this.

Bottom line facebook wants a wide variety of quality ads that improve the experience of their users.

Here is a series of questions submitted to me by my readers, and some written myself, answered by the person in charge of the ad approval area at facebook. Their identity kept private. 🙂

1. First can you give my readers the overall philosophy of what Facebook is looking for in ads?
The core of the Facebook brand is our user experience, and this experience is continually reinforced by our product’s distinct look and feel, functionality, and utility. Everything that exists within the site contributes to the overall Facebook user experience, including advertising. Facebook is committed to preserving our user experience by keeping the site clean, uncluttered, and free from intrusive messages. That is why Facebook Ads are a little different from other online advertising units. The look and feel of the ads is more like Facebook content and therefore becomes a part of our users’ experience rather than interrupting it. In addition, data in the ads is based on how a user’s friend interacted and affiliated with your business. Therefore, they behave more like the Facebook content users are used to engaging with on the site.
Facebook Ads allow advertisers to communicate effectively with their desired audience and are therefore more relevant to users.
Facebook Ads enables any marketer to easily and precisely reach the right people at the right time. With over 200 million active users sharing authentic information, advertisers reach their exact audience before they start searching. Advertisers can quickly create ads and target them to very specific audiences. It’s easy for advertisers to track their progress and gain insight into their ads with real time reporting.

2. In general, what don’t you want to see in ads?
Misleading ads are very frustrating for the user. For example, the text and the image of the ad should accurately represent the product being advertised. When this is not the case, not only does the user feel deceived and loses trust in the ad, but in the long run, the ad’s performance is affected too. If a user has a bad experience with an ad, they are much less likely to click on that ad or a similar ad again. This hurts both the user and the advertiser.
Deceptive and hurtful language are also detrimental to users’ experience and advertisers’ performance. For example, asking users ‘Are you fat?’, ‘Are you lonely?’, ‘Have bad acne?’.  Users often see ads like these as personal attacks and certainly don’t respond well to them.
Ad image has a rather significant impact on performance. Inappropriate or irrelevant images should not be used.  Advertisers don’t want to pay for clicks that don’t convert and users don’t like to be confused when clicking through an ad. When thinking about creating a high quality ad, be as transparent and relevant as possible.

3. What effect does the landing page have on approval?
Landing pages are reviewed through the approval process along with the ad creative itself. Even if the ad complies with all of our policies but the landing page doesn’t, we will reject the ad. For example, if an acceptable dating ad is submitted but the destination page has graphic images, we would not approve the ad. For more details on landing page requirements, please view section 2 of our Ad Guidelines (

4. Can you explain the time it takes for ad approval. If someone is trying to tweak different specifics of the ads, it can take up to 12 hours to get them approved.

Do you guys work on approvals 24 hours per day?
Our online sales operations team reviews ads as soon as possible and in the order that they are received. This can take up to 12 hours but is usually much quicker during normal PST business hours. Turn around times on the weekend are slightly longer than during the week.
If your advertisers use the ‘Create a Similar Ad’ option to make minor adjustments to their ad text (title or body), the ad is generally reviewed much more quickly.
5. What is allowed in capitalization?
Ads may capitalize entire words for emphasis, or capitalize the first letters of words in the ad text, but may not capitalize entire sentences or the entire text.
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6. I noticed that if I submit 20 ads in a campaign it looks like it takes longer to approve, than if I just submit one new ad.
Ads are reviewed as soon as possible and in the order they are received.  There’s no relationship between larger ad groups getting reviewed slower or faster.

7. What can you tell us about your team?
The Online Sales Operations team works with all advertisers who advertise through the Facebook Ads interface ( The goal of this team is to help support, grow and retain these advertisers. The team is focused on compliance, supporting advertisers’ questions or problems via email, soliciting product and system feedback, and improving campaign performance through optimizations.

8. What direction are you guys heading in terms of ad approval in terms of automating it, and/or making more consistent?
We are working hard to improve our advertising products and system to help our advertisers reach users in an effective and meaningful way. We are continuingly revising our ad review process to be more scalable and consistent.
Since we launched the Facebook Ads platform in the Fall of 2007, we have used advertiser and user feedback to inform product improvements and policy changes. As a company, we are always striving to provide a great experience for our users and partners. As advertisers, you have significant impact on this experience. Our advertising policies help safeguard the experience on Facebook for our users while providing you with opportunities to engage with users and promote your business. As we work on automating more of the ad review process, we will look to our users to provide their feedback on the relevance and quality of ads to the advertisers themselves. Ad quality and user feedback have always been important considerations for Facebook Ads, and help determine what ads are actually seen by users.  In general, ads that receive negative user feedback are less likely to be shown to users, and may not even run at all.

9. I read that if your site doesn’t get a good CTR the first 2 hours, then Facebook does not show it very much after that. Is that true? How does your algorithm work to decide which ad to show?
Ads will be shown based on the advertiser’s daily budget, bid and targeting criteria they’ve selected. If an ad doesn’t perform well when it is first running on our site, it is likely that our system will determine that this ad is less likely to perform well in the future, and will display the ad less often as a result.
For any given ad unit, we select the best ad to run based on its bid and historical performance. Therefore, if you are not receiving as many clicks or impressions as you would like, we suggest increasing your maximum CPC or CPM bid. We also suggest making sure your ad is as relevant as possible by targeting your ad to the most appropriate audience. Your ad is more likely to perform better and continue running successfully if it is being displayed to the users who are likely to be the most interested in your ad and click on your ad. You may want to experiment with multiple versions of your ad text and targeting to see which one generates the best results.

10. Where do you guys get the list of available keywords? Where do you get the list of available interests when creating an ad?”
The site is indexed for keywords in profiles and we compile those words as options for our advertisers to target.  When you choose to target an ad to certain keywords, it will be shown to users who have included any of those keywords in the “Personal Info” section of their profile. This includes sections like Interests, Activities, Favorite Music, Favorite Movies, etc. Ads may also be targeted to a user’s groups or the Pages he or she is a member or fan of that are related to the keywords you select.

End of Interview.

If you have any questions not covered, feel free to leave them in the comments, and if I can get them asnwered I will.

  1. mattvot said on June 2nd, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Great article!

    I have one question. In point 9 we are told that if you increase our maximum CPC or CPM bid on an ad it is more likely to perform better. But seen as though the algorithm works on the bases of the maximum CPC or CPM bid and historical performance, would increasing the bid make such a big difference, considering the original ad’s bad performance. Does the historical performance of an ad have such a detrimental effect on an ad that even if you go about increasing the maximum CPC or CPM bid of the ad, it won’t increase it’s future performance by any significant amount? Would you have to submit a new ad from scratch just to give it a chance?

  2. Dennis Yu said on June 2nd, 2009 at 1:49 pm


    Great insight and makes us wonder even more who that “mystery” person is at Facebook in charge of ad approvals. BlitzLocal has 3 full-time folks making ads on Facebook, and we’ve been doing this since the platform opened. There are a few things that readers should note:

    – Time of day you submit makes a difference in ad approval: they have different geographic teams.
    – Country specific offers on Facebook can be problematic: If you are an affiliate submitting ads that go to geo-ip landing pages, Facebook is not willing to use a proxy to check out that page nor view your test link. Your ad will just not get approved if it’s outside of the country the approver is in. Google has solved this problem and Facebook is aware.
    – Working with a Facebook rep helps: Even with Google, you need to talk to people to be aware of shifts in the wind. Facebook changes their policy from time to time, so if you’re a serious Facebook marketer, you are already working with a Libby or Keith on their sales team and have a contact to an operations person who can approve your ads.
    – Spam still works, but in low volume: I’d recommend not running Acai, IQ, ringtones, or other such offers. Yet we do still see some of these old ads still grandfathered in and running. I applaud Facebook for choosing the user experience over deceptive ads that make money.

    What say you?

  3. hotwheelz said on June 2nd, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    I know what you mean about misleading ads being frustrating for facebook users! I know someone who clicked on an ad and signed up for a “free” trial of a product. She only had to pay postage. Her credit card was then repeatedly charged a monthly fee even though she canceled the trial in the allotted period. Oops! Thank you for the insider info!! We all appreciate it!

  4. berny said on June 2nd, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    the depth of analysis is very imprssive.

  5. dk said on June 3rd, 2009 at 2:09 am

    I have tried to figure that out through testing, but don’t know the answer yet.

  6. dk said on June 3rd, 2009 at 2:12 am

    @Dennis Yu:
    As always you are brilliant and right on. I agree that a good ad rep at facebook (I also recommend Jeff Iden who has helped me a ton) can give you a lot of inside scoop on what changes are being made on ad approval.

  7. dk said on June 3rd, 2009 at 2:13 am

    Hi Berny! Great to have you stopping by! Good to see you online 😉

  8. Sue Lambert said on July 14th, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Why all of a sudden today are there Google Feedback ads all over my Facebook page, getting in my way and blocking links I need to use to access things and get around….this is totally annoying. Has Facebook made some change……I am trying to figure out where this change came from…..just started today, July 14th.


  9. Tyrinna said on July 21st, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I have had the same problem, I can’t view the top of my pages and it prevents me from getting to messages and posting on walls. I’m getting extremely annoyed by it – I think it started around the 14th for me too…?

    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  10. SnowBall said on July 16th, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    @hotwheelz: I did this once, but it was They don’t hide that info. anymore but back when I did my “free” report they proceeded to charge me $15 a month thereafter. And the title of the charge on my card made it impossible for me to figure out what the charge was from. I hate that! I’m so glad advertisers are taking into account the consumer’s feelings. Thanks, Facebook. You are some of the only guys out there that really seem to care what we think. And for that, I will continue to facebook.

  11. Wabber said on December 11th, 2010 at 6:02 am

    Do you know if lottery ads are allowed on Facebook – I’ve seen some people’s ads approved and others with exactly the same text disapproved.. is it really that subjective?

  12. purposeinc said on December 12th, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    I know facebook wants to create the best user experience possible, even if it is at a financial cost. Their rules change from time to time and I have seen some of my ads approved one day and not the next.

  13. […] Q&A Facebook Ads Approval – gutes Q&A von DK […]

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