Why won’t my real estate ad run on Facebook? Common reasons for rejections on real estate content and what to do about them

Some of your ads aren't approved message from Facebook

Facebook can reject ads for a lot of different reasons and they don’t always offer a lot of explanation, leaving you to wonder why your ads aren’t running. It’s even tougher when running ads with real estate content.

It’s especially easy for compliant real estate ads to get mistakenly flagged as violating ad guidelines. Facebook employs an automated system for moderating ad images, copy and landing pages which can create false positives and cause your campaign to get held up. Facebook is extra sensitive to content featured in real estate ads due to their recent settlement of a discrimination-based lawsuit from HUD and their new policies around Special Ad Categories

Read on for a list of the common reasons real estate ads get rejected beyond the obvious and what you can do to get your ads running again.

Common reasons for real estate ad rejections

Error message “Your ad contains too much text.”

Facebook recommends using images where less than 20% of the area contains text. If your image contains too much, Facebook may reduce the amount of delivery your ad receives or it may prevent your ad from delivering entirely. Use the image text tool to get a better sense of how well your image could perform.

Real estate ads can run the risk of having too much text if you make extensive use of image overlays. Did you know that signs in the background of your photo, or even shapes that look like text such as the shutters on a colonial home, can cause your ad to go into review? Facebook employs optical character recognition in its automated moderation and can sometimes cause false positives.

Facebook text overlay tool

Facebook may reduce your ad delivery for a moderate amount of text or it may decide to decline to run your ad entirely for photos with a lot of text.
You can address this problem by reducing the amount of text in your ad, or choosing a new listing photo that avoids signs or other text in the photo.

Error message “This ad can’t ask a question or make an assumption about a user’s personal attributes.”

Ads shouldn’t contain text that assumes something about users’ personal attributes, especially related to race, ethnic origin, religion, age, medical condition or financial status. It’s always safer to describe the property than to try to describe who the property might appeal to. Some problematic phrases that come from listing remarks include things like ‘are you tired of shoveling snow?’ or ‘income-producing property can help pay your mortgage’.

Even if this copy isn’t actually a violation of fair housing guidelines it can trip up Facebook’s automated moderation and should be rephrased. If you are stumped as to why your ad copy is problematic, check for sections that use the word ‘you’.

Error message “Ad can’t run: update text“

There are strict promotion restrictions around targeting underaged users with ads promoting alcohol or tobacco products. What’s that got to do with real estate ads? In order to be compliant with Facebook’s special rules for housing ads, targeting cannot exclude any age ranges above 18 and public listing remarks often make reference to a wine cellar or a cigar porch. These can flag your ad and prevent it from gaining delivery.

Error message “Ad Can’t Run. Update Website URL(s)“

You must have a working URL for your ad to run. Facebook may reject your ad if your landing page isn’t working, or if it attempts to capture user information through a pop-up form immediately upon page load. Using a PDF or image file as your landing page is also prohibited. 

If your ad features public listing remarks that use shorthand and abbreviations, you could inadvertently be inserting what looks to Facebook like a URL into your ad copy. Watch out for sentences without a space afterward or abbreviations with special characters. To Facebook’s moderation engine, this could look like a link with an obscure top level domain.

Using extensive abbreviations is not a best practice in general. Consider proofing and editing your ad copy that originates from public listing remarks to ensure you are creating ads that are easy for consumers to understand.

Error message “Ads must not reference Facebook or Instagram in a way that is against our brand guidelines. We don’t allow the use of the Facebook or Instagram brand in a way that implies partnership, sponsorship, or endorsement”

Stay away from including trademarked brand names in your ad copy to avoid ad rejections related to implied endorsement.
In addition, if you are going to mention Facebook or Instagram in your ad copy, make sure you user the proper capitalization and don’t abbreviate to FB or IG. Mentioning these social networks is allowed as long as you don’t imply that you’re endorsed by them somehow and as long as you use their trademarks properly.

Error message “Your landing page must not prompt users for sensitive financial information”

There are additional rules around offering financial products in Facebook ads. If your ad copy or landing page makes reference to mortgages, make sure you are not requesting or appearing to request personal financial info. Any claims around mortgage availability must be clear and factual.

Error message “Become authorized to run this type of ad” 

If your ad copy contains phrases that could be construed as political, Facebook’s automated moderation tool may be flagging it as a political ad. This requires a special sign-off within your Ads Manager tool and you won’t be able to run your ads without getting it cleared.

Unfortunately there are phrases within addresses and public listing remarks that can ensnare your ad and prevent it from getting impressions. If your property happens to be in the “Governor’s Hill” neighborhood or on “Ronald Reagan Drive’, consider omitting or rewording these sensitive phrases.

Getting your ad out of “not approved” status

If you can make edits to your ad copy or image, do so in Ads Manager and publish your changes to trigger a fresh review. If you feel that your ad has been incorrectly categorized as violating community guidelines, request a review in Ads Manager. Reconsideration usually takes less than 24 hours.

If you have access to a Facebook account rep for your advertising account, you can also get help with ad rejections that way. These are usually available for advertising agencies or organizations that do a large amount of advertising on Facebook and Instagram each year.

Optimizing copy for Facebook ads can be tricky for anyone, but especially for real estate agents. Are there additional pitfalls for real estate content that we haven’t covered yet? Let us know in the comments.

About Matt Hamilton

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