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Sometimes it might feel like social media is a bit of a wild wild west where you can do whatever you like. But it’s not. Those platforms have rules. And those rules are tightest when it comes to running ads.

Sometimes I look at an ad on Facebook and wonder how they ever got it approved. The biggest offender to me is Wish. The online retailer is actually Facebook’s biggest advertiser. Yet how they can show products like crack pipes, adult toys and even plant seeds that illegal to have in Australia is beyond me. Maybe money speaks louder than rules?

Whatever the reason, at some point you will come up against Facebook’s advertising rules. It might be an outright violation in one of your campaigns. It might be a rejection based on something completely nonsensical. But it happens to all of us. So here’s a few ways you might strike up a problem with the big blue app’s rules in the future.

Discriminating based on age is actually a problem. And not in the obvious ways. For example, I ran a campaign in 2018 for a quad bike tour for older teens during the school holidays. The laws of the state these tours were held in stated that no one under 12 could go on these tours. The client only wanted kids from 12-17 to ride at a discounted rate. The ads I ran stated the age range in the written copy. The landing page also showed these rules. When I created the campaign it got approved and started running. Then about 2 hours in, they stopped. The campaign was flagged as a violation, the ad account was banned from doing any more ads and my whole profile was banned from ever advertising again on Facebook and Instagram.

Why? My “business model” was described as being incompatible with Facebook. What I did wrong was make the offer in the ad only available to a certain age range of children. Not to all children. This was judged as being discrimination by age. Even though the laws of the land forced us to discriminate based on age. The answer from Facebook when I appealed this and asked for the decision to be reversed? “Your business model is not supported by Facebook. There is no further avenue of appeal and no further way for you to seek a reversal of this.” That profile, my main profile, the Business Manager, Ads Account – all of it has been banned from advertising ever since. And while I am obviously advertising now, I had to create a new profile, new ad accounts and new business managers to do it. Yet even now I can come perilously close to getting banned again when I don’t intentionally go and re-read the ad polices on Facebook before every campaign to make sure that I am not violating anything that I had forgotten or missed.

When it comes to the kinds of things that could get your ads rejected or your ad accounts banned it seems to depend on the person reviewing it. While I’ve seen other people not get banned to the same degree that I did whilst doing almost exactly the same thing, I can only assume that sometimes you get a person at the other end who is having a bad day. I would only advise that when you do appeal a decision that you do it in a respectful and humble tone. If you go in there like a wrecking ball demanding a reversal, making threats and screaming bloody murder you’re going to be screaming against a brick wall. The person at the other end is actually a person, after all. No one likes being yelled at or abused. Facebook’s staff are the same, so be a good human when something like this happens to you.

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Dante St James is the founder of Clickstarter, a Facebook Blueprint Certified Lead Trainer, a Community Trainer with Facebook Australia, a digital advisor with Treeti Business Consulting, an accredited ASBAS Digital Solutions advisor and presenter, and the editor at The Small Marketer. You can watch free 1-hour webinars and grow your digital skills at Dante’s YouTube Channel.