and does it really matter?
You may have noticed in the past couple of weeks that ads that previously worked just fine, now get a nasty warning message stating "this ad was marked low quality based on our Advertising Policies, as a result, the ad will be shown to fewer people..."
Many people were getting very concerned about this and changing their ads around to get rid of the nasty error message. The biggest obstacle though is that the message is not telling you what part of the policy your ad is violating. To add insult to injury, it is not telling you what that actually means "the ad will be shown to fewer people..." Does that mean my ad will not convert at all? Does it mean each conversion will be much more expensive?
Well, I wanted to find out just that! What is causing the ads to have this message and what exactly is the penalty.
After multiple chats with multiple Facebook Ads Policy Reviewers, as well as a long discussion with the Facebook Ads rep that is assigned to my marketing agency, here is what I learned:
Just like the "text over image 20% rule", these new rules may make your ads not deliver at all, but also, on the other hand, it can cause them to cost more per impression. Facebook will essentially deliver your ad all the same but will charge you more.
If you are advertising on a small scale (say less than $500 per week) over a large group of people (say half a million or more, which is easily achieved in most urban areas) then you should have no problem going through the entire budget, you will just get fewer results for it.
On the other hand, if you are advertising for a larger organization and have a large budget to spend, or if you are working with a smaller list of people (like a retargeting list of everyone who inquired), you may not even be able to spend your entire budget or may not deliver at all.
While there is NOT an official place where you could read which exact items in the ads are causing these error messages (the help pages of the Facebook Ads section do a poor job of vaguely covering this), the info that I was able to gather is very simple, its anything and everything that would either lower the experience of the end user or anything and everything that would give you free advertisement without paying for it (with the latter being much more the emphasis, which means Facebook is concerned less with users and more with profits but uses user experience as a disguise for that).
Here are a few examples of ads that fall into this category:
1. Engagement bait, defined as ads with spammy content that seek to entice people to engage via likes, comments or shares. For example, if your ad copy said "tag your engaged friends" it would be considered an engagement bait and would, therefore, get one of those warning messages and reduced distribution. Obvi Facebook wants you to pay for the ads and not have people tag their friends in your ads so they can see them for free... wouldn't you if you were Facebook?
2. Clickbait is a type of ad that purposefully withholds information in an attempt to convince people to click on them to get the whole story. For example, if your ad has copy such as "you will never guess which venue is the best in Los Angeles" this would be considered clickbait and you would have reduced distribution of the ad.
3. Almost anything with the word "you" in it will get marked this way too. So for example, asking "are you engaged" would cause this problem. But on the other hand, asking "looking for articles for engaged people?" is ok, since you are not referring to the person seeing your ad.
4. Anything with negative words in it like "awkward", "painful", "bad", etc. would also fall into this category.
So, since no one would actually tell me what is the penalty, I decided to discover for myself. Not one of the eight Facebook employees I spoke to knew the answer to this question. They all told me "your ad will have fewer people see it for the same $1" but when I asked how many fewer, no one knew the answer...
I found two old posts on my page, one was clearly in compliance with all the policies while the other clearly violated the policy because it asked people to "tag their friends or their grandma"...
My old post that violates the policy:
The second post that complies with all ad policies:
of course, these posts were not originally made to be ads, so they did not need to comply with these policies, but they made interesting test subjects.
Ultimately, the ad that violated the policy got results, but the results cost x9 more! So, the ultimate question should be "is the ad so freaking good that it makes sense to spend x9 for it?" maybe, that's up to you to decide!
Results for the ad that is compliant:
Results for the ad with violation:
My personal conclusion is that in almost all cases there is no reason to pay x9 for the ads. Ultimately, if a specific ad can get me more traffic for the same $1 than why would I choose to pay more? Although some would argue that if an ad is causing exceptional conversions on deeper levels within the funnel then it may be worth it... I am not sure I agree with this because an ad would have a hard time causing better cost per conversion when it itself cost x9 more!
Image credit to Michelle Breiter Photography