Facebook’s Ad Approval Process and How it Works

Facebook's ad approval process

We get asked a lot of questions about Facebook’s Ad approval process, likely   because it seems there aren’t many reliable answers to be found. Even those experienced in running Ad campaigns sometimes face confusion when the approval process doesn’t go quite as it had in the past for them.

Some of the most frequently asked questions include how long it takes to get your ad approved, and what happens if its been “x amount of time” since submission? Is it an algorithm that approves or denies my ad, or a person? How will I know once it has been approved?

To see the answers to these, read on, my fellow Facebook marketers. Our questions are about to be answered.

How Long Does it Take To Get Your Facebook Ad Approved?

There is no exact answer for this. Sorry, I know that’s not what any of us want to hear when asking a question. But it’s true.

The most accurate answer for this question that we have is this: it depends on how busy the ad approval team is at that moment. It’s all dictated by your timing, and varies based on the time of day, the time of week, and how many ads are in line before you waiting to get approved.

The majority of submitted ads come back quickly, often within 24 hours. Most are approved within the day. Some claim to get their ads approved almost instantaneously, within ten minutes.

Weekdays and mornings seem to be among the best times to submit ads for quick approval. The Facebook team works between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm PST, so keep in mind that any ads submitted outside those hours will automatically add to your wait time, at least until the morning.

If you are still waiting on an ad to get approved and it’s been at least three days, while they could just be busy and it does sometimes take them that long, they could also have a bug in the system. At that point, deleting the ad, recreating it, and resubmitting it could be the way to go.

Who Approves the Ads?

As you may have noted from above, Facebook doesn’t have an algorithm or some sort of computer software that runs rampant on the queue of ads, approving and denying them. This is part of the reason the process can take a little while.

Actual employees, highly trained on the Ads guidelines, are the ones who go through your ads to approve them. Their entire job is to review ads, so there’s no getting anything by them.

While having employees approve ads can mean that the process can be subjective and open to human error, the chances of that happening if your ad has been rejected is unlikely. This is another question we’ve been asked.

While yes, human error does happen (nobody is perfect, we all know that), it doesn’t necessarily happen often here. The people reviewing these ads know the regulations inside and out, and reviewing ads is the entirety of their job description, not only something they do every other Tuesday and Thursday. Resubmitting a rejected ad while ignoring its corrections could potentially get it approved through someone else, but it is unlikely and not a good idea to try as you’ll likely get the same answer.

I’ve seen several sites suggest not only resubmitting an ad once, but multiple times until it gets approved. If you really believe a mistake was made, I understand resubmitting without changes just to see (though contacting Facebook for more information may be more useful). Resubmitting the same ad over and over, however, is a waste of their time and yours. Fix what they suggested needed fixing, and you’ll be good to go.

How Facebook’s Ad Approval Process Works

It’s actually a very simple, basic system. You submit your ad, it waits to be reviewed, it gets reviewed, and it is either denied or approved. Not a lot of explanation is required, but since we’ve gotten a lot of questions (and again, there’s few resources out there elaborating), here it is.

Once you submit your ad, it immediately goes into a queue of other ads waiting to be approved. This is what delays your ad from coming back to you immediately, not the actual review itself.

Those evaluating your ad simply make sure it matches up with Facebook’s ad guidelines. They aren’t trying to trip you up. It’s a simple, quick process, which is why you sometimes see ads come back almost instantaneously when you aren’t waiting.

While you’re waiting for your ad to be approved, you’ll see a “pending review” status in your ads manager. You’ll be notified the second your ad is either approved or rejected. If it has been approved, you can start running it immediately. If it hasn’t, you’ll get an explanation why not, and you can contact Facebook for more information if you are confused about the reasoning. You can then edit and resubmit your ad in hopes for approval in the next go around.

Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 5.02.14 PM

See, I told you it was simple!

How to Make Facebook’s Ad Approval Process Go Quickly

If you’re in a hurry and want your ad to get approved as quickly as possible, there’s a few things you can do to speed up the process. Sometimes they’re just backed up and it will take a little while. Sometimes it can’t be sped up. But, sometimes there’s a few practices you can utilize to try to get your ad approved faster.

  • Make sure you’re following the guidelines. I know, it sounds redundant, but a lot of ads don’t get approved because they aren’t following Facebook’s rules for advertising with them. To see how to never get your ad rejected again, you can view our blog post here.
Facebook's ad approval process
Facebook gives examples of what is and is not allowed in their guidelines.
  • Take a look at your domain name. Domain names are sometimes marked as spam, and Facebook has a quality score. Having your domain name marked as spam can keep your ads from coming back quickly, or even from getting approved.
  • If your ad is time sensitive (for example, an ad detailing a 48 hour promotion), you can either create your ads in advance and temporarily turn off the campaign, or you can create an ad that is scheduled to start at some point in the future. You can find instructions on how to do this here. While you can’t rush their approval, you can use these options to make sure your ad runs when you want—assuming you get it approved ahead of time.
  • Test your landing page carefully. Sometimes it’s better to have your ad take users to a landing page not on Facebook. Facebook has specific guidelines about landing pages, too, and the ads that are connected to them. Having a landing page they don’t approve of won’t get your ad approved quickly or at all.
  • If your ad has a new image that isn’t immediately recognizable, it tends to take longer. When you don’t use one of the many images available to you through Facebook for your ad, it can take longer for your ad to get approved, especially if the reviewer has to spend some time figuring out what they’re looking at and how it relates to your ad.

Never Have Your Facebook Ad Rejected Again

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 5.22.07 PM

Nobody likes rejection. It especially stings after you’ve put time, effort, and money into something.

A lot of users have asked us why their Facebook ads are being rejected. Facebook sends an email to users after their ads haven’t been approved, but sometimes they don’t seem to clear up too much.

In order to maintain their own reputation and profitability, Facebook has terms for those who advertise with them.


Never Have Your Facebook Ad Rejected Again

Why Your Ad Was Rejected

Have you found your Facebook Ad rejected, either through email or under the Ads manager?

For whatever reason, your ad was most likely rejected because it was not deemed to comply with Facebook’s Advertising Guidelines. It’s a long list, but it’s one that you should definitely when looking to advertise on Facebook. Some products or services, such as alcohol, gambling, or prescription services have more in depth limitations. Some highlights to this list include:

  • All components of an Ad, including text, images, and other media must be relevant and appropriate to the product or service being offered, as well as the audience viewing it.
  • Products and services promoted in the ad must be clearly visible on the landing page.
  • Ads cannot assert or imply a user’s characteristics within categories such as race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender, disability, financial status, criminal record, membership in a trade union, and/or name.
  • Ads taking users to a landing page must not have a landing page that interferes with users from leaving it or navigating away. We’ve all seen those annoying “Don’t Leave! Stay Forever!” screens that pop up when we try to click away. No one likes them, and I always wonder if I’ll end up with a virus in my computer after seeing one.
  • Ads and sponsored stories in the Newsfeed may not be comprised of more than 20% text.
  • Ads targeting should be used appropriately and never used to provoke users, such as if the National Rifle Associate targeted those with anti-gun laws in their interests with inflammatory messages.
  • Ads for regulated goods and services, such as alcohol, must follow industry codes and laws (no targeting anyone under 21, ABC Fine Wines!). Alcohol advertising is prohibited in some countries.
  • Ads cannot be linked to a sight with suspected malware/spyware

As said above, it’s a long list. This is only a short clip of some of the highlights that would apply to just about everyone. Taking the time to read this list will not only help you make sure that your Ad is approved, but that it will sit well with your audience and be profitable.

Sometimes, though, users pick through every single word of that list only to find that their ads have still been rejected. The most consistent errors—often unintentional—that we’ve seen are as follows:

  • Where your ad leads to: This is easily the biggest reason we seen Ads get denied. What you are advertising in your Ad must be shown clearly, and represented clearly, both in the Ad and on your landing page. Even if they match up you have to be careful. Facebook is strict not just about your ad, but your landing page, too. Your landing page can’t have pop ups. Your landing page cannot interfere with someone trying to navigate away from it. If you are struggling with your landing page, keep in mind your ad can always take users right to your Facebook page, too.
  • Misleading and deceptive content: I bet you can guess what this one covers! Yep, we all guessed it. Showcasing a picture and text describing one product or service and actually offering another on your landing page (or in general) isn’t going to fly. This is often ranks in at the honored spot of biggest problem #2. Are you advertising the best desserts ever, only to really be selling baking and cooking wear? You’ll probably get denied for that, even if in your attempt to keep your Ad short you just reduced what was once a clear message of “Use our baking supplies get the best desserts ever!” Mistakes can stem from good intentions, so comb over every part of that ad carefully and make sure your audience won’t be misled or confused.
  • Taking the CAPS LOCK too seriously: Capitalizing every word, or even an entire word, in Facebook Ads can get your ad rejected. We get it, you’re excited about your product and company, you want to shout it out and share it with the world. We’re excited for that too! But over capitalizing can come off as aggressive or hostile (which you definitely don’t want) in addition to distracting from the rest of Facebook’s site. Facebook puts Facebook’s business first, and they don’t want anyone lowering the quality of their site with distractions. Capitalization in general is ok, but use it sparingly. Emphasize, don’t scream. This is an easy fix.
  • Too much text: This is another one that has gotten a lot of Ads rejected, and especially seems to hit home when it comes to the promoted post. All images in ads may be comprised of no more than 20% text. Adam Gerber has a great article about how to avoid getting rejected for this in his article here.

An appropriate amount of text in the Ad picture

An appropriate amount of text in the Ad picture

  • Inappropriate images: Keep it clean, folks. If you’ve got a picture of a beautiful woman in a bikini and there is very little relevance, your ad will probably be rejected. Even if there is relevance, it might be rejected anyways.

What To Do After Your Ad is Rejected

Still finding your Facebook ad rejected?

If your ad is not approved, Facebook will send you an email letting you know why. You can contact their customer service for more information if you’re still unclear as to why it was not approved. They will often give you the option to edit your Ad so you can submit again to be reviewed.

If you don’t have the option to edit your Ad, which sometimes happens, you’ll need to create a new one entirely.

Do not try to fool the system. Some users have tried to trick Facebook into letting them keep their ad mostly the same, altering things a bit but not really changing what they themselves even know is wrong.

This is a bad idea. Not only will your Ads continue to be rejected, but if you are a repeat offender of consistently submitting Ads that don’t follow the guidelines, you run the risk of having your Page suspended.

When I was in writing workshops in college, there was always one student who got offended at critiques (which was, of course, the whole point of the workshop). They refused to truly edit their drafts and often failed the course. Don’t fail your Facebook Ad campaign out of stubbornness. It may sound silly, but some users do.

Sometimes it’s an easy fix. With the 20% rule, you just have to make the text smaller, reduced, or more condensed. For example, take a look at these Modcloth images. They are very similar, but one would work in an Ad and the other wouldn’t due to too much text.

This Ad would not be accepted due to the 20% text rule.
This Ad would not be accepted due to the 20% text rule.
This Ad would be accepted according to the 20% rule.
This Ad would be accepted according to the 20% rule.

In order to keep your Ad from getting rejected, double-check all the guidelines before submitting it. Sometimes resubmitting will require a minor tweak, like the pictures above, but sometimes it will mean a complete overhaul.

If you need a complete overhaul, as exhausting as it is, it’s worth the work.

In addition to making sure your ads don’t get rejected, you also want to make sure they’re successful. Now that you know how to keep your ads from getting rejected, learn how to make sure they convert every time using our FB Ads Formula.