The 20% rule no longer applies to text on Facebook ad images as of 22nd March 2016.
You may have not liked it, but at least it was easy to define. The 20% text rule for image ads on Facebook has been in force for some time. They even provided a basic grid tool that allowed you to check how much of your image was obscured by text. Without any fanfare, and certainly no notification to their advertisers, they quietly dropped the rule.
Facebook's grid tool is gone.
Rather Facebook now provide a "rough" visual guide as to the impact too much text will have on the reach of your advert.
We now have to make our own judgement as to whether we've used too much text or not. They most definitely have an algorithm behind the scenes, but they are not telling us what the scale is.
There are now 4 categories of text overlay
- Image Text: OK
- Image Text: Low
- Image Text: Medium
- Image Text: High
If your image text is classed as OK - typically no text overlay other than a company logo - then your ads will display just fine.
With a low classification, your reach may be restricted.
Images in the medium text category your ad will reach fewer people than optimal.
If your images have a high volume of text then they're unlikely to display at all.
Exceptions of text that doesn't impact your ads
- Movie Posters
- Book Covers
- Album Covers
- Product Images - Where an entire product can be seen, and not just a zoomed in image of the product.
- Posters for concerts/music Festivals, Comedy Shows or Sporting Events
- Text-based Businesses Calligraphy, cartoon/comic strips, etc.
- App & game screenshots
- Legal text
The following all count as text
These should be kept to a minimum:
- Logos - Any text-based logo is counted as text regardless of its size or alignment
- Watermark - Watermarks are considered as text, even if they're mandatory or as per their brand guidelines
- Numbers - All numbers are considered as text
Ultimately Facebook clearly state that they prefer images to have little or no text. To ensure maximum reach, reserve all your promotional text for the post itself.
NOTE: The changes are not in place for all users as yet. Facebook is testing and rolling out the new options gradually.
UPDATE (6/9): Facebook expert Jon Loomer has confirmed that the change will be rolling out globally soon.