Numbers are hard, facebook ads shouldn’t be.

I love facebook ads. Super targeted, cost-effective and very easy to use and understand… until this happened.

facebook warning box

“Your Page wasn’t promoted because your profile picture, which is used as the image in your ad, violates our guidelines.”

Red boxes on social networks can be scary. A violation of a guideline, yikes, that sounds wicked serious and not something I want to do.

So, what did I do wrong?

“Ads and sponsored stories in news feed may not include images made up of more than 20% text, including logos and slogans.” (Text in Images guideline)

example of acceptable image and unacceptable image

The profile picture has more than 20% text on it? Really? Did I make a text heavy graphic. My bad. That’s not good for any of us. Let me fix that. But first, shall we count some pixels?

profile pic

Let’s don’t count just the pixels of the text that is covering the image, let’s put a box around the words and measure that. It’s not only easier, but also works in favor of facebook since it’s a larger area.

profile pic with reb boxes

Image is 418×418 (174,724 pixels), and the boxes around the text are 388×27 (10,476 pixels) and 388×47 (18,236 pixels). That works out to 16.43% (28,712 pixels) of the profile picture being text, well below the 20% that triggers a violation.

Maybe facebook considers the entire area the wordmark takes up in its calculation. Let’s draw a bigger box.

green box on profile image

While 388×89 (34,532 pixels) is much closer to 20% coming in at 19.76%, it still isn’t more than 20% and shouldn’t be a foul.

Voice of reason: So why are you so upset, it only cancels your ad for sponsored stories in the news feed, all other ad types are available? Sounds like you’re just hating on facebook because you weren’t invited to the Graph Search beta party.

Good question, and here’s an easy answer: Sponsored stories in the news feed are GOLD. When promoting a post, I almost always pause the other ad types and just run with the sponsored stories. Sponsored stories generate clicks, they prompt interactions on the page, they give brands a human representative. People trusting people FTW!

ad screen

I totally understand facebook’s reasoning behind the “less than 20″ rule, nobody likes spammy content. But if I’m running an ad promoting my page, why would the profile picture be subjected to this rule? Cover photos, YES. Photos in promoted posts, YES. Images in ads, YES. Ads using the profile picture to increase likes of the page, NO.

profile pictures for uwgb

I’ve been using the same profile picture layout for a year. A photo of campus with an overlay of the wordmark. I don’t find it spammy. I think the campus scene is less spammy than a logo with a smaller workmark.

It’s not brand spam, it’s the brand. The brand the ad is asking them to like. If facebook wants brands to be less spammy on facebook, they should build an algorithm that prevents brand pages from playing edgerank with hack posts. The “like if you’re hungry, share if you’re really hungry” posts are more offensive than an ad that has an image composed of 20% text.

Now back to that Graph Search party invite…


One thought on “Numbers are hard, facebook ads shouldn’t be.

  1. Pingback: 20% text, 100% confusion | The Social Web at UWGB

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