R.I.P. Facebook Ads – April 2010

by Josh Todd on April 9, 2010

Well we had a good run. When I first met you Facebook, you were just a kid. You didn’t know what the true potential of your platform was worth, and you let me put ads on you for cheap! Those were the days. We made lots of money together. But now, you are all grown up. You have decided that it’s not me, no, it’s you that’s changed. You think I’m a nice affiliate, but you would rather not take my ads and my money anymore. Where you are going to get advertising dollars from now, I’m not sure. But you must have someone better in mind because you certainly don’t want to hang out with the likes of me anymore.

All kidding aside, Facebook has effectively given the middle finger to affiliate marketers with its latest update to their advertising policy.  Let’s look at what was actually sent out to affiliates from Facebook, and I’ll do my best to translate…

Improving Ad Quality
Ad quality and user feedback have always been important considerations for Facebook Ads, and are significant factors in  determining which ads we accept and display on the site. We’ve recently taken a close look at the ads that drive the most negative feedback, and identified four key themes behind ads that are detrimental to the user experience. As a result, we’re strengthening our Advertising Guidelines in these key areas to ensure that all Facebook Ads meet our high quality standards.

Translation: “We have decided that we would rather piss off our advertisers than explain to our users that Facebook is a free-to-use, ad-driven website that they choose to visit.”

Unexpected User Experience
Advertised products may not generate any unanticipated user experience. This includes, but is not limited to:
1 Computer performance changes, such as the unexpected installation of any secondary software or the overlay of advertisements on the user’s browser or operating system
2 Unanticipated recurring charges
3 Undisclosed sale or distribution of requested user information. Any distribution of user information must be confirmed through
user consent.

This part is actually not that bad. I don’t disagree with the new guideline. Advertisers shouldn’t be messing with users’ computers.

Unclear Recurring End Product
Advertisements must be clear and straightforward in describing any recurring end product to the user. The advertised offer must directly match the service being sold, and ads should provide the user with a clear understanding of what he or she is purchasing.
Facebook Ads for products with recurring billing cycles should not:
1 Focus on an advertised “hook” without disclosing the core subscription-based service.
Example: “Take a quiz!” (for a service that includes ringtones, wallpaper, or other undisclosed services)
2 Position a subscription-based service as a single product or billing interval.
Example: ”Try now for $2.95” (for a service that includes monthly billing intervals)

Translation: “Advertising may no longer be phrased to try and excite the user, encouraging them to sign up. In fact, ad copy must now do everything possible to discourage the user from clicking the ad and, God forbid, signing up for the offer. We now know that our users are too stupid to make their own decisions, so we are going to decide for them what they should or should not do with their money.”

Unsubstantiated Claims
Ads must not include unsubstantiated claims. Ads must clearly represent the offer, company, product, or brand that is being advertised.
Unacceptable claims include, but are not limited to:
1 Unrealistic prices or rates.
Examples: “$0.50 LCD TVs,” “$10/month health insurance”
2 Use of current events or news reports to create false associations with the advertised product. Political events or images may not be used for an irrelevant commercial agenda.
Example: “Breaking News: Great car insurance rates”
3 Use of false qualifications to create a sense of relevancy
Example: “If you are right-handed, you qualify for low premiums”
4 Implication of dynamic ad content
Examples: “7 minutes remaining,” “only (3) available”
5 Implied knowledge or passing of user data
Examples: “See who searched for you,” “you have been chosen”

Translation: “Advertising must not be creative whatsoever. If it is worded in a way that makes a user want to click the ad, then it is probably not going to be allowed anymore. We now prefer to present them with a list of products and services resembling a page in the phone book, and if they happen to be looking for ‘Reasonably Priced But Not Too Cheap Health Insurance’ while they are browsing through pictures of their ex, then they will surely respond to that ad.”

Unacceptable Business Models
Ads will not be permitted in cases where a business model or practice is deemed unacceptable or contrary to Facebook’s overall advertising philosophy. Unacceptable business models include, but are not limited to:
1 Lead generation offers which sell or distribute a user’s information to larger extent than indicated by the landing page
2 Offers that require a user to complete several hidden steps or make additional purchases in order to receive the promised product
3 Offers that require the input of user information for complete access to offer or product details
4 Ads promoting deceptive recurring billing services
5 Downloadable software that may affect the user’s computer or browser performance in unexpected or undesirable ways

Translation: “No affiliate offers from any CPA network will ever be allowed again.”

So there you have it. Facebook has decided that it no longer needs the advertisers that are paying them to keep the doors open. I don’t know what their plans for the future are, but they certainly don’t include us.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Jordan April 9, 2010 at 4:32 am

Haha! Amazingly written!


John April 9, 2010 at 5:02 am

Awesome article… Our $$$ sure has dwindled since the latest changes…


shawns April 9, 2010 at 7:06 am

adtech is here just in time!


Josh Todd April 9, 2010 at 7:07 am

Absolutely. New traffic sources ftw!


Finch April 10, 2010 at 12:24 am

It's definitely a slap in the balls. But you have to weigh up the advantages of many other affiliates giving up on the platform. Maybe that'll push prices down slightly. Or maybe there'll be less banner blindness for the affiliate who can come up with a concept that sneaks through the approval process.

If the market becomes lass saturated, a winning ad becomes more valuable.


Brett April 11, 2010 at 12:56 am

Awesome post dude!!! Funny stuff.

Nicely written. Thanks for the summary!


Joey April 11, 2010 at 4:57 am

Time to brush up on my ppv skills.


LOL Facebook April 11, 2010 at 11:55 am

Perfect post man.

So funny how they sat on the ASW panel explaining how they want to work with affiliates and now are basically shutting us down!

Wait till end of Q2 and they'll be begging for us back.

Facebook = Bipolar


Mike The Domain Guy April 11, 2010 at 6:14 pm

Funny post. It is 'kinda' frustrating when major traffic sources change the rules like that. But I agree with Finch (above) who sees it as a bit of an opportunity.




Brian April 12, 2010 at 11:41 pm

Sad but true!


Brian April 12, 2010 at 11:44 pm

Also – The doors are wide open for everyone to make their own high quality products, there's no reason you can't get a high volume of sales as a product owner even with the new regulations. I can still get people to click on Ads even with the new regulations. It's certainly different, but not impossible.


.Hack April 15, 2010 at 5:25 am

Facebook is so fucking stupid. Someone should burn down there booth at adtech for me since I'm gonna miss it then beat each of them brutally. Fucking backstabbing bitchcocks.


Renee January 11, 2011 at 7:46 am

As both an advertiser and a consumer I agree with Facebook on this. As a consumer I find the deceptive advertising practices extremely frustrating and irritating. If you have to resort to the type of advertising that Facebook is banning then you definitely wouldn’t get me as a customer. As an advertiser, I find that straight up honest advertising works best. Customers don’t want to feel deceived as soon as they click on your ad. Way to go Facebook!


Andy August 11, 2011 at 6:21 am

It's been so great watching Facebook crumble because they're missing out on the ad revenue from affiliate networks.

Oh wait…


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