RULES
SEM, SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook Is Killing Its Less Than 20% Text in Image Rule for Ads

RULESFacebook is notoriously secretive and that can even apply to rules and best practices for Facebook ads. The latest example of this is the Facebook 20% text rule, which appears to be dead – for the moment.

What Is the Facebook 20% Rule?

Also called the Facebook text rule or Facebook 20% text rule, the Facebook 20% rule refers to how much text is allowed on an image in an ad. So only 20% of the image can be covered words and 80% must be pure image.

Facebook introduced this rule years ago in a similarly opaque fashion. Rather than just announcing that after this date, text can only cover 20% of ad images, ads started to be rejected if their ads violated this rule that they didn’t yet know about. Gradually the word got out and eventually Facebook officially added it to its Help Center. Later it added a text overlay tool that could be used to determine the text to image ratio before formally submitting Facebook ads for approval.

That wasn’t the end of it, though. In March 2016, Facebook removed the helpful text overlay tool and switched to a category system. Instead of a flat “more than this much text on an ad image and the ad is rejected” it became a sliding scale. The four categories were:

  • Image Text OK
  •  

  • Image Text Low
  •  

  • Image Text Medium
  • Image Text High

Ads in the first category ran as normal. An example of an ad image in this category would be a discreet logo on an ad image. As more text covered the image, Facebook put the ad in one of the three remaining categories. Ads in the low or medium categories could run, but the greater the amount of text, the more Facebook could choose to limit the ad’s reach. Ads in the high text image category were likely to be rejected.

With that change, Facebook also clarified that certain types of text images were not restricted. For example, ads featuring movie posters, book covers, infographics, or legal disclaimers could technically hate “too much text” on an image without being penalized.

Why Did Facebook Restrict Text in Image Ads?

Whenever Facebook makes a change to its advertising policies the company says its due to internal research to enhance user experience. Before this rule change, guidelines for the Facebook 20% text rule said:

“To create a better experience for viewers and advertisers, ads that appear on Facebook, Instagram, and the Audience Network are screened based on the amount of image text used in your ad. Based on this review, advertisements with a higher percentage of image text may not be shown. Please note that exceptions may apply to certain ad images. For example, exemptions apply to book covers, album covers and product images.”

That page in the Help Center now says:

“Facebook’s ad system is designed to maximize value for people and businesses. That’s why we conduct research and analyze feedback from our community to understand how different attributes of an ad affect the ad’s performance. We’ve found that images with less than 20% text perform better. With this in mind, we recommend keeping your text short, clear and concise in order to get your message across effectively.”

So even now that the rule is gone, Facebook still recommends limiting text on ad images. However, ads will not be rejected solely for that.

Can Facebook Ads Have Text?

Yes, and now the prior restrictions are gone. As with the prior ad policy changes, Facebook did not make a general announcement. Instead, Facebook reps began slowly telling marketers that the new policy was rolling out gradually. The company has not indicated why it’s eliminating the Facebook 20% text rule, only that they still recommend limiting text on ad images for best user response. You can ignore the recommendation without penalty.

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