Facebook has announced a new set of restrictions, and increased penalties, for brands that publish 'low quality' ads on its platform.
As explained by Facebook:
"Low-quality ads on Facebook, such as ones that include clickbait or direct people to unexpected content, create bad experiences for people and don't align with our goal of creating meaningful connections between people and businesses. We are now going further in our efforts to limit low-quality ads on our platforms by disapproving more of them and reducing distribution for more ads in our auction."
So what counts as 'low quality' in a Facebook ads sense? Facebook has provided three specific examples.
1. Engagement bait
These are your typical 'like and share' posts, re-purposed as ads. Facebook has specific rules against using such methods in contests, but they also don't like them in promotions.
It makes sense why brands would want to use these tactics, particularly given that engagement is key to maximizing reach within the News Feed algorithm. But such methods also skew the data, which nullifies the effectiveness of the algorithm system - i.e. Facebook is working to showcase the best, most engaging content to users, and these posts undermine that based on an engagement 'hack'.
2. Withholding information
Facebook also dislikes ads which lure clicks by alluding to the full detail of the post without being clear on what that detail actually is.
I mean, these are just annoying in general, and Facebook really doesn't want them promoted and pushed out to even more users.
In fact, tactics like these were among the original motivators for the implementation of the News Feed algorithm, because Facebook was concerned that its network was being overrun by clickbait and spam. By withholding the detail, this ad could well be spam, and of no interest to the viewer, which they won't know till they click. That then leads to a poorer user experience.
3. Sensationalized language
And the last Facebook ad approach in the firing line is 'ads which use exaggerated headlines or command a reaction from people but don't deliver on the landing page'.
This is a common online marketing approach, adding superlatives to your headlines to grab attention - 'amazing', 'mind-blowing', 'you won't believe'. In fact, when BuzzSumo analyzed the most shared headlines on Facebook and Twitter last year, several examples of this type came up - and they can be effective, but as demonstrated in the example above, they can also be unnecessary, untruthful, and again, lead to a poor user experience.
In this case, it's important to note that Facebook is focusing on headlines of this type which aren't supported by the information on the subsequent landing page, so you can still utilize such tactics to a degree. Just make sure you're not doing it for the sake of sensationalism, and that your content actually aligns with the claims.
Facebook will now be actively enforcing these measures more stringently, and will be imposing penalties for violations.
What are the potential penalties?
- Individual ads with low-quality attributes will see reduced distribution in our ad auction, or will be disapproved. This applies to all advertisers, but since we tend to see more of these characteristics in ads related to media, entertainment, politics or issues of national importance, they may be impacted more.
- Multiple ads flagged with low-quality attributes may impact the performance of all ads from that advertiser.
So, your ads are going to get less reach, which intimately means higher costs for performance. In essence, if you're running a Facebook ad campaign, its best to be upfront about your products and services, and avoid the sensationalized clickbait and spammy approaches.
You can read more information about Facebook's new, low quality ad crackdown here.