Ways to Overcome the 20% Text Rule for Facebook Ads

As a marketer, you probably know the old 80/20 rule that you make 80% of your revenue from 20% of your clients. Well, it seems that Facebook has brought a new definition to the 80/20 meaning—one that many marketers find frustrating. The Facebook Ads 20% text rule.

Facebook is concerned with making sure that all ads meet high-quality standards, and as the world’s largest social network, it’s understandable. This rule concerns ads that are placed on the Facebook news feed. Since Facebook has over 2 million advertisers, it’s hard to make sure that everyone is producing top quality ads. So, the 80/20 rule was created by them to ensure consistency, and now every marketer has to live with it—or, at least, figure out how to get around it.  No Ad can have more than 20% text within the Ad image.

Much of the frustration is due to some ads that slip through the cracks and are approved—clearly not meeting the 80/20 rule. Is it a simple mathematical equation that checks for 20% text, or is there someone behind the big blue curtain making certain all ads look great? It appears it may be a bit of both! (And some lag in Facebook checking algorithms.)

Facebook’s ad review process can take from 5 minutes to a few days. Once an ad has been submitted, it goes through a review process. No one knows for certain how much of the review process is manual versus an automated algorithm, but some marketers have noticed discrepancies when submitting the same ads for approval.

These discrepancies could mean there is a human element behind the scenes—at least for ads that are borderline. Regardless of the process, you’ll still need to get your ad approved. Here are a few tips and tricks to help your ad pass muster with Facebook.

First, use the Grid Tool from Facebook. This official Facebook tool allows marketers to upload an image they are going to use in an Ad and simply click on the boxes that contain text. You can find the Grid Tool by visiting fb.me/20. If your ad uses less than 20% text, you are good to go. This is the safest surefire way to get your ad approved.

Next, use an image that shows how the product or service is used, an actual visual example rather than relying on text to communicate.  If an image has additional text or a logo, you may have a higher chance of being rejected. Many marketers have found that if they add taglines inside the image, they receive the Facebook sorry rejection notice.

Also, try not to make an image the entire ad. Place a bit of solid color to add as a backdrop for your text. This portion of the ad can also help you stay in compliance by acting as a guide for the 20% text rule.

Try using creative font treatments. Many marketers report that just by applying certain treatments to text, they get a pass. Try using text vertical, circular, or angled text instead of regular horizontal text. This type of treatment works best for marketers who are trying to add additional elements for a company like a tagline or product name.  This is an attempt at a workaround to help the automatic checks bypass your creative text use!

Resize your image. It sounds simple, but yes, it works. If you take your ad and make it a bit smaller then paste it into a new background—your text should comply with the 20% standards. You will need to revisit the grid tool to make certain, but this technique is a much easier than rebuilding an ad from scratch.

Up for another option?  Try using video instead of just an image. Video can help marketers get a message across by telling users what is happening, or what to do. This gives marketers the ability to say more without having to write it.  Plus, video is hot on Facebook and is getting great user interaction.

Finally, bring in your best graphic artist and create a reusable template. If you are running a continuous campaign for the same company, you may benefit from using an approved template. Have your graphic team work on a template that adheres to the 80/20 rule. Make certain that the photos and text can be interchanged with different products or services.

Once the first ad is approved, continue to use that template for additional ads. It’s a great way to save on ad creation time, and you’ll be certain to pass the Facebook review process. Remember, Facebook allows you to use multiple images too. You may find that uploading several images; you can tell a great story instead with multiple images and a bit of text on each one that when viewed together communicates in a really neat way.

Finally, remember your end-goal. Most likely, you’re trying to drive traffic to your Facebook page or website, increase page likes, or introduce a new product or service. Make certain your ad accomplishes this task. All too often, marketers forget to create “the ask” because the text is so limited.

Before you submit, check your ad. It may be a hassle at first, but over time, you’ll learn what it takes to pass Facebook Ads 20% text rule and get your ads working.  And, yes, you want to use Facebook Ads because it’s a powerful way to get in front of your ideal audience!

Looking for more Facebook Ads advice? Check out these posts:

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Do you use Facebook ads for your business? Are you frustrated by the arbitrary way Facebook approves the images? Learn how to overcome the 20% text rule.

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Mike Gingerich
Mike Gingerich is an expert on Lead Generation. A Facebook, Social Media, Online Marketing and Business Leader, Mike helps businesses improve lead capture, grow sales, and increase business effectiveness. Mike brings 10+ years building strategies for TabSite and other brands to increase awareness, sales, and maximize ROI in both B2B and B2C companies. His expertise is in developing and outlining effective online marketing and business strategies that deliver results, drive revenue, build healthy companies and yield positive ROI.
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2 Comments

  1. Great tips Mike! I recently had a video refused because the first frame had too much text (it was me in front of a screencast of my Facebook page). Next time I will upload a thumbnail without text :-)

  2. Or apparently if you are Facebook doing an ad you can break all the rules (see screen grab – ironically this was promoting a conference about best practice on Facebook!)
    https://d30zbujsp7ao6j.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Facebook-breaking-the-20-rule.png

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