Facebook ads are easy to set up:
- Go to your fan page and click on “Build Audience” — or on any of the myriad ads Facebook presents to you for your ads.
- Let Facebook walk you through the ad-builder wizards.
- Wait for approval.
It takes about 15 minutes for ads to be approved, and you’ll be notified if your ad is refused. Often, you will have reached quite a few people while the ad was being approved or disapproved, and you may have already spent some money by the time you receive the notice that your ad has been disapproved.
One of the main reasons for ads being disapproved is too much text. I made an example of a terrible ad for a blog post once, and you can see how too much text on an ad can make it look bad:
But not all high-text ads look bad. And it’s not always completely clear whether you have too much text in your ad. For example, the two posts below — neither of which is strictly speaking, an ad — were both part of a Facebook experiment. Guess which one got disapproved for having too much text?
It was #9, on the right, which has three fewer words than #8 on the left. #s 1-7, all using the same design, were also all approved.
Why does this matter? In this case, it doesn’t matter very much. However, your Facebook ad or boosted post might be part of a marketing campaign which has involved much planning, research, and work on the part of your marketing department, your content people, and your designers. It might represent a significant investment. Once you’ve paid for all the work involved in creating your ad, the last thing you want is to have Facebook refuse it.
The Facebook grid tool lets you check your text percentage. You can upload an image and check off all the boxes that contain text. The number of boxes checked determines the percentage of text.
If you look at the two gratitude images above, you’ll see that the text bar is slightly higher on #9 than on #8. On days 1 through 8, the text touched a row and a half of boxes. The slight raising of the text bar for #9 meant that the text actually touched three rows of boxes. There was less text on day 9 than on day 8, but according to the grid, it covered more of the image than the previous days’ messages had.
We have on several occasions had clients send us ads to use on Facebook and had them refused because they have too much text.
The solution is simple. Have your designer check the ad — or check the mockup yourself — before finishing it out.
The thing that makes that solution less simple in real life than it sounds is that these ads often are not really designed for Facebook. They’re designed for newspaper inserts or email blasts or something, and just resized for Facebook. With Facebook, though, you can put all the text you want into a boosted post, in the text area. Your image can simply be an eye-catching graphic.
Putting the text in the graphic also can have negative results for search, since graphic text isn’t searchable.
Once again, we see that it isn’t as efficient as you might expect to make a single graphic for a campaign and spread it across all the media channels you use. It works better to consider the specific nature of the different media channels and to optimize for each one.