September 2020 Editor’s Note: As of September 2020, Facebook started messaging advertisers the following in regards to their 20 percent text rule.
“At Facebook, we are constantly improving and refining the best ways to improve the quality of ads on our platform. One of the ways is revisiting the effectiveness and impact of existing ad quality checks.
As part of this review, we will no longer penalize ads with higher amounts of image text in auctions and delivery.
As of Sept. 7th, we will begin gradually removing external material and sources that indicate that we enforce high levels of text in images.
Please note, Advertisers will still need to abide by our ad policies regarding the content of the text. Advertisers are still encouraged to reduce the amount of text with images, as we have found that images with less than 20% text generally perform better.
Chatter about the Facebook 20% rule began when the text overlay tool used to validate ad image text percentages started being redirected.
End of editor’s note
If you’re just getting started on Facebook Advertising, you know that there’s a lot to learn! From meeting Facebook’s basic requirements to learning the many different tips and tricks for maximizing ad performance, all the things you need to learn to be successful can seem daunting.
One Facebook advertising rule you may have heard is the “20% rule.” If you’re confused on just what the 20% rule is, you’re not alone. Today, we’re keeping it simple and breaking down this basic Facebook ad requirement in laymen’s terms. Keep on reading to learn what Facebook’s 20% rule is, why it matters, and how you can always ensure you meet this advertising requirement.
What Is the 20% Rule?
Designers and marketers who have come from a traditional marketing background may be thrown off by Facebook’s 20% text rule. While billboards, posters, and other traditional print advertising often focus on images with catchy text and copy, Facebook ads takes the opposite approach.
To reach users on this platform, you need to created ads that mix well and blend in seamlessly with the rest of the content on their newsfeeds. To do this, ads should focus on high-quality, simple images with minimal text and concise, straightforward messages.
Because Facebook knows that ads perform best with little to no text, it implemented the 20% rule. This rule states that in order to run an image-based ad, your image(s) must have less than 20% text per image. This rule applies to all image-based ads shown on both Facebook and Instagram, including single image ads, carousel ads, and video ads. (Please note that this rule only applies to the image in the ad, not text outside the image like the ad copy, call to action button, not description.)
There are a few exceptions to the 20% rule, including products like book and album covers, video games, event posters, and some other product images that contain text (ex: a box of crackers). Watermarks and logos that contain text are not an exception to the 20% rule and will be counted as text.
Maybe you’re thinking “Pshhh… I’m going to take a risk and break the rules” … sorry, not possible! Ads with more than 20% text covering any image will be rejected by Facebook during its automated ad review process. Even if the ad was not rejected, with too much text, performance will decrease, and the ad may be shown less frequently.
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How to Meet Facebook’s 20% Rule
Now, if you’re looking at a potential Facebook ad image you’ve created and you’re trying to do math in your head to see if it meets this rule, there is a better way!
Facebook provides users with a tool to check that images meets the 20% rule before they are submitted for review — so you don’t have to be an Einstein to figure out if your image complies. To take a look at this handy tool, visit: https://www.facebook.com/ads/tools/text_overlay
Examples of Facebook Ad images
Now, let’s look at what the 20% rule looks like when successfully used in a Facebook ad.
Like we’ve discussed, to create the highest performing Facebook ads, use as little (to no) text as possible. In this example, the image only contains the company’s logo, sized small.
If this image seems too plain to you, just remember that the 20% rule was put into place to help your ads perform better. Ignore all your instincts to include text and embrace the blank space!
Instead of cluttering the image with distracting text, this business will say what they want to say in the copy and description. Because this image is simple, it will blend into users’ newsfeeds and is more likely to perform well. This image gets an A+!
Next, we’ll look at what would happen if this business decided to add an additional line of text to their image.
This image technically passes the 20% rule, and it would be approved by Facebook – however, the additional text may cause the ads reach to be lower. To increase ad performance, this business should forgo the additional line of text in the image and instead, add the offer directly to the body of the ad copy. This ad gets a C. It’s passing the test but has room for improvement!
Finally, let’s look at an image that would not be approved by Facebook.
This add is full of text, and it clearly breaks the 20% rule. While it may seem like a good idea to put your offer in big bold letters on your image to try and attract users, research has shown that doing so will actually do the opposite! Remember, when it comes to Facebook advertising, the cleaner the image is, the better. This image gets a big fat F! There’s no way Facebook would approve an ad with so much text!
Remember that the 20% rule is in place to help your ads perform their best and create a better experience for both social users and advertisers. The best way to capture a Facebook users’ attention is to let an eye-catching image speak for itself! It’s just that easy!
When in doubt, remember this piece of advice from the one and only Michael Scott:
When it comes to Facebook ad images, simple really is better!
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