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Facebook to end the 20% text rule for ads?

It appears that Facebook may be removing its 20% text rule for advertising posts, in favour of a weighted system that restricts the reach of ads in accordance with the volume of text used.

The 20% text rule has long been a bugbear of marketers looking to use text overlaid on images in their ads. Up until now this has been applied by drawing a five by five grid over the image, with any text needing to fit within no more than 5 squares. Even small breaches (a single text pixel over a line) often resulted in ads being rejected, causing a headache for advertising managers.

Stories heralding the end of the 20% text rule began circulating yesterday afternoon (4th April 2016) after at least one agency spotted the change while uploading ads, and posted screenshots of new guidance to their blog. However, references to the 20% text rule remain within the Facebook Ads Guide and elsewhere, causing some confusion within the industry.

However, looking through the Facebook Help Center there appears to be new guidance on text in ads, with any mention of the 20% text rule removed from those pages. The screenshots themselves show a new graded system, with images being ranked from low to high text.

20%

Interestingly the guidance also suggests that the amount of text used within those images will factor in determining the reach of ads. It will be interesting to see how this affects advertising campaigns making use of overlay text in ads, with extensive A/B style testing required to get a full understanding of their impact. Given Facebook’s record on identifying text in images up until now, it may be that this change has a negative impact on future ad campaigns making use of overlay text.

Last night I followed up my research with a question to Facebook Ads Expert, Jon Loomer, asking him if he was aware of the change, he said, “Based on what I’ve heard, it’s a change that appears in the UK. But I don’t have it, so until I have it or hear an official announcement from Facebook, I assume it’s a test.”.

We will just have to wait and see if the change to the text rule is permanent or not, without an official announcement from Facebook it remains to be seen if this is just an isolated test here in the UK.

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I’m fascinated by how a company or organisation can change its fortunes and even undergo a transformation by looking at a challenge in a different way and by behaving in different ways.

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