You create an ad on Facebook, spend the time to choosing the perfect targeting, make it look great, and hit the button to make it go live and instead of going live, Facebook disapproves your ad.
Does this sound familiar?
Thousands of real estate agents, across North America, experience this issue often. Some have even stopped advertising completely, because they can never seem to get an ad approved.
So let’s take a look at why ads get disapproved and what you can do to change it. At Just Sell Homes, we’ve never had an ad that has been permanently disapproved. With the the right tweaking and leverage of the appeal process you can get any real estate ad approved – within reason.
The most common reason for agents’ ads being disapproved is because Facebook deems them to be discriminatory in nature.
Time and time again, try to place an ad only to disapproved for this. Rest assured, when this happens, it may not actually be that your ad is being discriminatory. Rather, it’s part of Facebook’s effort to ensure that no human rights are being violated. Real estate is heavy regulated to ensure people of all ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, etc… are treated fairly. Everyone has a right to a roof over their head.
However, not everyone sees it this way. Stemming from some issues in California where people were caught using the Facebook ad platform to exclude people of specific ethnicities. This caused Facebook to implement a review system to combat this discrimination.
Now, when you run a Facebook ad, you have to certify that you’re complying with all local rules and regulations surrounding housing, if requested. If you’ve never certified this before, and most haven’t, that is all that is happening.
It’s a very simple fix.
- Go to the Ads Manager
- Find your last disapproved ad
- Go to the ad level and certify that you are complying with all local rules and regulations. Once you do that, no more ads will be disproved for this reason.
To get that specific ad back up and running again you just need to make a small change and re-submit to be reviewed. That change can be as small as going to the last part of the text and hitting the spacebar once.
Watch the video below where I had an agent share their account with me to fix this issue for them so you can see step by step how to do it.
How are Facebook ads reviewed?
Facebook doesn’t release the exact process specifically so people aren’t able to easily find loopholes. Based on experience and speaking to other marketers here is how it seems to work:
A combination of human based review and algorithms at work. With millions of businesses of advertising on Facebook, it would be impossible to manually review every ad and get them approved in a timely manner.
This means Facebook uses algorithms to detect compliance problems. They’ve trained it to identify issues in ads. This is often what causes an ad to be disapproved when it shouldn’t. The machines aren’t perfect and something you have in your ad may have triggered the algorithm to disapprove.
Eventually, it is more than likely that almost every ad is reviewed by a person. Sometimes ads can be approved and then 24 hours or sometimes longer it gets disapproved after it was already running. When this occurs, it’s likely because a human reviewed the ad and saw something the algorithm may have missed.
So while it can be frustrating at times, just keep in mind that it’s an algorithm often disapproving your ads. It may cause you some minor headaches but ultimately it’s there to keep bad actors off Facebook as much as possible. If they let those ads through, Facebook’s experience for users would be affected causing them to abandon the network altogether.
If people stop spending time on Facebook, your ads will become less effective. So at the end of the day, the ever improving Facebook Ad review system is there to help you get results.
Trust is earned.
This is true in life and with Facebook ads. The more you advertise with Facebook and the more your ads get approved without issue, the more trust you build up. The faster your ads get approved and the less likely you are to have disapproved ads.
This is actually one of the reasons we do not run ads out of our clients’ ad accounts. Instead, we create a new one in our Business Manager. Without knowing the advertiser’s history and reputation with Facebook, we don’t know how their trust level with Facebook will affect ad performance.
It doesn’t take too many violations and bad ads to knock your trust score down so you should guard that. Be careful about who you let into your ad account.
Interestingly, Facebook reviews ads that no longer are running in your account too. It’s rare but we’ve seen it happen where ads that ran a year ago are disapproved today. If this happens I’d recommend fixing or deleting the ad even if you have no intention of that ad ever running again. The less ads marked “Not Approved” in your account the better.
If you go too far past the line Facebook may even ban your ad account altogether. Then it’s not as simple as just opening up a new one and starting over. First, you’ll have to get approved to open a business manager to get new accounts and then you’ll also have to get a new credit card.
Credit cards attached to a banned ad account will trigger a ban of any new ad account they’re associated with.
Facebook has Prohibited Content
Facebook has many categories they consider prohibited content. From drugs, weapons, violence, adult content, and a whole host of others. Most of them are pretty obvious.
You’re advertising housing though, why should this matter?
Depending on how you’re wording your ads, it may trigger the algorithm to ban your ad automatically.
For example, during the Bitcoin craze in late 2017, a lot of people were running Bitcoin ads on Facebook. It’s all I saw every time I logged on. People made a lot of money but, a lot of people also took advantage of people because of the massive hype around it.
Well, during this time, I launched the first episode of Over a Pint with Tim Hudak. During the episode we talked very briefly about the future of real estate and how blockchain technology may affect the industry. Here’s the post I’m talking about, where I very briefly mention Blockchain on the side of this post.
Since Facebook banned all ads related to cryptocurrency, they added keywords that would trigger automatic disapprovals. Obviously blockchain is one of those words. My ad was banned for “promoting prohibited financial services”. Obviously my ad did not do that.
I appealed this decision. But the results of Facebook’s ad review was the same. So I appealed again. Once again, Facebook came back and said it was disapproved for promoting prohibited financial services AND this was a final decision and there was nothing else I could do to change this.
So I appealed again, and then again, and then again. I pled my case every time. Do you know what happened after 5 appeals?
My ad ran on Facebook. An actual person must have finally reviewed the ad and seen that it was a legitimate ad that did not sell any financial services.
What you say and the context in which you say it comes into play when running ad ad.
You’ll often hear people say that you can’t include “You” and “Your” in your ads because they’ll get disapproved. This is only partially true. Including ‘You’ and ‘Your’ are more likely to get your ad disapproved but it’s definitely not across the board.
What Facebook is really after is that you are not calling out your audience directly. That creeps them out. So if I targeted divorced men over 40 with an ad for buying a home I can’t word the ad as “You’re a divorced man over 40, and now it’s time to buy your next home”. That’s calling out the audience too directly.
Instead, you would have to word it more like this: “Divorced men over 40 face many challenges and buying a home can be one of them.” and then add a call to action that’s not specific. You basically have to word as if you didn’t know they were definitely a divorced man over 40, even though you definitely know they are a divorced man over 40.
We run ads all the time though that say things such as “Thinking of Selling Your Home? Download our guide on selling your home to help you get the most money”. Those get approved every time.
The context around how you use language matters.
You’ll also want to avoid making big promises. We had a client who personally invested $39,000 into the Toronto Pre-Construction Condo market and turned it into over a million dollars in equity in only a few years. So we ran an ad basically saying “I’ll show you how to turn $39,000 into a $1,000,000 by investing in Toronto Condos”.
While thats a big bold claim, he had done it. It wasn’t unrealistic. It’s too specific and doesn’t mean it can be replicated. So Facebook disapproved it. We had to change the wording to focus on the idea of “I invested $39,000 in the condo market and today have over a million in equity. See how I did it” and that linked to a video of him explaining how.
We didn’t promise we could do it for them, we simply explained the process of how it can be done.
Another big one with the copy is that Facebook will punish you for poor grammar, improper use of punctuation, or using offensive language. You can’t hide offensive languages behind symbols either, Facebook is smart enough to figure that out. They know that shit and sh*t or s**t is the same thing.
This is the part where a lot of people get caught without realizing it. Facebook is NOT just looking at your ad. They are also looking at where you’re sending people.
Your landing page could just as easily get your ad disapproved as the the ad itself.
Make sure your landing page is very clearly offering the same thing as the ad. No bait and switches are allowed. They could even end up blacklisting your entire domain if you do this too often.
Too many pop ups, redirects, or attempt to hide the domain they’re being sent to will all potentially cause your ads to be disapproved.
Screw landing pages then, I’ll just use a Facebook lead ad and get them to opt in on Facebook!
Oh wait, Facebook reviews those too. I’ve seen countless ads get disapproved where the ad itself was perfect but the lead ad was the issue.
For example, we ran a simple ad for a client that was basically “Looking for detached homes in TOWN?” To help send them the right list of homes, we added a custom field to the Lead Ad form that asked them their budget. This was flagged and disapproved with Facebook immediately.
It took a couple appeals and a live chat with Facebook representative to make them see that asking their budget actually provided a better user experience and wasn’t an invasion of their privacy. Eventually Facebook allowed the lead ad with the budget question in but it took time to get them to “see the light”.
Never ask for more personal information than you need and anything financial related will get flagged pretty quickly.
Just like with landing pages, the link you include after they opt-in, to redirect them to, will also evaluated by Facebook.
So, your landing page is perfect, the text doesn’t contain any issues yet you’re STILL getting disapproved? Might be the image.
In real estate ads, there’s usually only one reason images will get an ad disapproved. That’s due to too much text or misleading text in the image.
Facebook frowns on things like before and after photos, mainly for weight loss industry, but, for example, if you’re including before and after with staging, it’s possible it will accidentally gets caught in the Facebook algorithm. But if appealed, you should win it.
Facebook used to have a rule that an ad cannot have more than 20% text in it. Now that rule is gone but they still want you to follow it. Ads with little to no text will get more reach for less money. The more text you have the more you’ll pay to show it to less people.
Usually if an ad is disapproved because of text in the image, it’s not because of the amount of text but rather, what you said. If any of the issues in the copy we mentioned above, occurs in the copy in the image, Facebook’s algorithm can catch that too.
If you’re using text to mislead people that will also cause issues. An example would be if you included a picture with a play button and wrote “click to play” and when they did it actually redirected them to your website to watch the video. That’s misleading to the user and Facebook will ban it.
How to word your appeal
You’ve checked everything and you can’t understand why your ad is still being disapproved. Now’s the time to appeal with Facebook directly. There’s no secret sauce to get your ad appeal approved.
The key is to be polite, explain why you think the ad doesn’t violate their policies, and finally prove to them you’re a legitimate business in good standing. You can do this by telling them things about how long you’ve been in the business and link to your website.
Facebook may come back and deny your appeal. Don’t panic, just respond again, and again, and again. If you KNOW you’re right, you will eventually get it through. You just have to make sure you know you’re 100% right and that each part of the process you’re promoting is compliant.
It may take 4-5 appeals and Facebook will probably tell you on the 2nd or 3rd appeal that the decision is final. It’s not. Just keep appealing. Always be polite, always explain why, tell them you’ve reviewed their policies and don’t believe it violates and why.
On the off chance this still doesn’t work, delete the ad and start over.
Stuck in Pending Review
Sometimes, your ad is neither approved or disapproved. It sits as “Pending Review” forever. Facebook officially says most ads are reviewed within 24 hours but it can take longer. I usually give it 48-72 hours before worrying that it’s stuck.
Facebook is a software platform, a MASSIVE one, mistakes and glitches happen. It’s built by humans and humans make mistakes. Sometimes ads just get stuck. Not much you can do about it besides either trying to make changes and re-submitting for review or just starting over with a new ad.
At the end of the day, all Facebook cares about is that their users enjoy their Facebook experience. They want it to be a beneficial experience for users. If it does, then they’ll spend more time on Facebook, which means more ads that can be showed to them and more money that Facebook makes.
So keep that in mind when advertising. If you lead with value and always think “is this good and positive for the people I’m advertising to” you’ll almost always be fine.
Mistakes happen though. This is why we recommend going to business.facebook.com and setting up a business manager. On a business manager you can set up multiple ad accounts, on your personal profile you can’t.
Just in case your ad account gets shut down, if you have a business manager you can run ads from one of the other accounts you’ve set up. Just make sure not to have the same credit card on both of them!
Early on, try to go overboard with compliance. Don’t push the envelope ever. The more trust you build with Facebook, the less time your ads will be reviewed before going live and the better responses you may get on appeals. So take the time to build that trust with Facebook.
If you have any questions about anything in mentioned here or would like help getting an ad approved join our Facebook Group and our community will help you out.