Facebook Advertising

Social Media Marketing 101: Facebook Advertising Changes

 Facebook advertising has a lot of rules and guidelines, and it can be difficult to keep up with them all. There are rules about landing pages and appropriate targeting, for example, and a whole slew of additional rules to follow if you fall within certain industries.

And if you don’t remember to follow all of Facebook’s guidelines, your ad will almost certainly be rejected. One of the most commonly forgotten rules was Facebook’s 20% text rule.

Text plays a vital role in deciding the value a picture gets. Facebook has been a premium source of advertising for all the business organizations. Though Facebook has time to time changed its policy regarding texts related to images for ranking them as low, medium and high.

The new rule as implied by Facebook in relation to texts is that certain guidelines are issued including a 20 percent text rule, which means that the text on ad photos cannot take up more than 20 percent of the photo.

It should be noted that this guideline is only specified for ads featured on the News Feed and all the business organizations also need to make sure that if they are planning on promoting a post or doing a News Feed sponsored story they need to follow this rule and comply with it in all due respect and it should not be avoided.

There was an earlier rule for the same. Until recently, Facebook advertisers were allowed to cover their ad images with no more than 20% text.

To adhere to guidelines, those who paid for reach on the platform were forced to use a tool developed by Facebook that divided ad images with a 25-rectangle grid (it’s since been replaced with a different tool, but more on that later). If your text took up more than 20% of the rectangles, the ad wouldn’t be allowed to run.

The tool was largely ineffective and depended on the position of the text more than it did the amount of text:

Facebook Advertising

What it comes down to is noisiness — news feed saturation. When any of Facebook’s 1.65 billion users log into the platform, their networks share an average of 1,500 stories per day.

That’s 1,500 posts the social network’s algorithm has to prioritize in your news feed. You don’t get to decide, Facebook’s algorithm does.

And somewhere in there, it needs to make room for advertisers. That’s when text overlay on ad images comes into play.

The Importance of Text on Facebook Advertising Images


If you want people to interact with your ad, you first have to get them to notice it. As we scroll through our Facebook feeds, quickly scanning for posts we want to consume, it’s the ones containing bright, colorful imagery that stop our index finger in its tracks.

This should come as no surprise, considering research conducted almost 40 years ago indicates that we tend to notice images and headlines on a page first, then read bolded words after that, and consume block text last.

To take advantage of our natural attraction to images, many Facebook advertisers add CTAs to their ad photos, and compelling words like “free,” “you,” and “limited-time offer,” knowing they’ll be read more often than the actual post text.

The ability of posts like these to grab user’s’ attention is more important now than ever following Facebook’s announcement that its news feed algorithm will be changed yet again to favor friends’ content over advertisers.’

While many industry authorities cite using text overlay as a great way to draw social media users to a Facebook ad (including ourselves), some people, like the team over at SketchDeck, say that more text on an ad image actually plummets CTR.

After testing 48 Facebook ads to bust 6 marketing myths, here’s what they found:

Facebook Advertising

These results go against everything that has been told by industry insiders. But, that doesn’t mean they’re altogether worthless. In fact, a recent update from a Facebook representative suggests the complete opposite.

What has Changed in Facebook Advertising


Facebook just made changes to the 20% rule, without even alerting advertisers. The grid tool (which I admittedly really loved because it was so helpful) is now gone—you can’t use it even if you wanted to.

Instead, we’ve got a more vague guideline about recommended text overlay, which is, unfortunately, a little more complicated.

Now, instead of having a “yes or no,” your ad’s image will fit into one of four different classifications ranking the amount of text overlay. These are:

• Ok- Images with text classification OK have minimal text—think a company logo and not much else.

• Low (which is actually higher than Ok)- Images that have been classified as low might have a slightly restricted reach.

• Medium- As you could imagine, images with medium text have a limited reach, and images with high levels of text might not even be displayed.

• High

The new Facebook text overlay rule was formulated. Under Facebook’s new guidelines, an ad won’t be outright rejected if it contains more than 20% text, but it will have its reach limited — in some cases significantly.

Instead of using a “run or reject” system, Facebook will now categorize your ad according to the following ratings:

Facebook Advertising

While most businesses didn’t seem to mind it, aside from the annoyance of having to edit an already-created image, some had more of a struggle with it.

Some businesses would feature images of a product that had text on the actual product (like a shirt or coffee mug with text on it), and some had a hard time showcasing their product and still meeting the 20% text image overlay rule. They’ll likely be happy with the new changes.

The following are exceptions, and DO NOT count as text on your ad image:

• Infographics

• Book/Album covers

• Product images in which the entire product can be seen

• Posters for movies, festivals, sporting events, and shows

• Legal text

• App screenshots

• Cartoon and comic strips

• Text-based business calligraphy

These, on the other hand, DO count as text on your image:

• Numbers

• Text-based logos

• Watermarks, regardless of whether or not their use is mandatory

Should you still Limit your Image Ad Text?


Facebook says their users prefer ads with little to no text. Since Facebook controls ad reach and campaign cost on its platform, it’s wise to follow the new rule — which doesn’t offer as much flexibility as they’d have you believe.

Regardless, you’d have to try pretty hard to get your ad labeled as “Image Text: High.” If you want your ads to get maximum reach, put your text in the actual post as opposed to on the image. Save a few choice compelling words to overlay, but don’t go overboard.

Think about your unique selling proposition. What’s going to draw your users in? Overlaying text like “free,” “you,” “new,” and “instantly” will help your ad compete in users’ news feeds with their friends’ posts. Use it wisely and sparingly, and your ads will continue to run with maximum reach and at minimum CPC.