Facebook: Your Ad Approval Process is Broken

Facebook: Your Ad Approval Process is Broken
Desk with Social Media and Connection Concept

Facebook has massive potential for advertisers: You can target your potential customers based on a range of criteria and you can even use Facebook ads for re-marketing. Here at DPOM, we often use Facebook ads for ourselves and our clients to help amplify content and increase its reach but I can’t help but feel Facebook doesn’t do a very good job of it.
As with most advertising platforms, your ads are approved prior to going live. This ensures ads meet the platforms policies and ensures nothing naughty is likely to show. Facebook has their own site of Advertising Guidelines and this document opens with:


At Facebook, we believe that ads should contribute to and be consistent with the overall user experience. The best ads are those that are tailored to individuals based on how they and their friends interact and affiliate with the brands, artists, and businesses they care about.


So this week we asked our staff to pay attention to Facebook ads and send us screenshots of any ads that seem “Wrong”.




Here’s what we found:


Facebook Advertising doesn’t allow any Tobacco (Or related products) advertising, yet these advertisers manage to circumnavigate this policy by adding numbers into words to disguise the ads from their approval system! Annoyingly, one of our clients is a very well known reputable retailer of these products and would love to advertise on Facebook – with good quality ads!

Come on Facebook, above are 3 separate advertisers flouting your guidelines, at least you’re consistent in your approval process failure!

Here’s a snippet from your own Advertising Guidelines:

D. Drugs and Tobacco
Ads may not promote or facilitate the sale or consumption of illegal or recreational drugs, tobacco products, or drug or tobacco paraphernalia.

What about a Steroid Alternative? Note the advertiser has circumnavigated the approval process using alternative characters (A common theme it seems!):




What about some hotties?



Talk about a snappy headline from ciao.co.uk, doesn’t look spammy at all!


So Facebook, please explain how are these ads are “Consistent with the overall user experience” ? Personally, I think they’re terrible and cannot for a minute see how they align with your policy.



Frankly, it seems Facebook’s advertising approval process is a complete and utter failure.



If Facebook wants to see its ad platform grow in the future then ensuring ads are relevant and tasteful should be high on their agenda and at the very least, their approval process should ensure ads actually stay within their own advertising guidelines.
By not doing this, Facebook risks audiences becoming ‘ad blind’ so when a relevant advert finally does break through, it’s not going to get the attention it might deserve. Not to mention alienating some advertisers – would you want your advert appearing in the mix with these crimes against marketing?
For what it’s worth, Facebook does allow you to block / report an advert by hovering over it and hitting the ‘X’ that appears on the top right which hopefully means they will improve ads as time goes on. But to allow adverts to slip through the net that contravenes their policies is inexcusable.
It makes me wonder what else could slip through if it’s so easy to manipulate their approval process?