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Is the 20 Percent Rule Gone? Not So Fast My Friends…

Matt DeLuca

Matt DeLuca

There are some rumors going around the social media space that Facebook has removed the 20 percent rule for advertisers. For those who may not know, Facebook for many years has prevented advertisers from using text overlays on images if the text took up more than 20% of a picture based off of a grid system. This was in response to spammy ads that certainly never looked like they belonged on Facebook and was designed to force advertisers to use the actual status text and other text elements within Facebook ads. Some advertisers have tried to get around this rule through a variety of means but the 20 percent rule has been ingrained as a standard for Facebook advertisers since 2013.

Now, Facebook is changing the rules a bit, but in truth all they are doing is clarifying Facebook’s position on how ads should really look on the platform. Now, users will not receive notifications that an ad has been disapproved but rather Facebook will weight images based on the amount of text within an image.

For ads that use a lot of images, Facebook will limit your paid reach and require a significantly higher bid for your ad within the ad auction place. For some ads, this may mean that your ads will not receive any impressions because it is impossible to win your bid.

For ads that use only a little bit of text, the bid will be significantly lower and, as a result, your ad should receive more paid reach. Facebook has rolled out the following guide for users to understand how Facebook grades text in ads:

Advertisers and creative should look at this as an opportunity to test text versus no text for their images. We have run some tests for our clients and found that for some images, text based ads underperform no-text based ads. Likewise, for others, having text is extremely successful. This just underscores the constant need to test and optimize based on each individual campaign.

That said, it is clear how Facebook wants advertisers to operate on the platform. Facebook prefers for ads to look like organic posts that normal users might share rather than look like print ads or the old gaudy pop-up ads of old. This is a positive step for Facebook in that it should make things easier for many advertisers. However, I hope that Facebook continues to monitor ads and works to eliminate poor-looking ads and bad advertisers within the Facebook advertising space. Facebook is an incredibly effective social and advertising platform and maintaining a high-quality user experience is paramount for Facebook’s continued success.